NEW YORK — All told, Lucas Duda played five and a half innings in Sunday’s 3-2 Mets win, his first game since May 20, looking mostly, in manager Terry Collins’ words, “like he hasn’t played in four months.”
That’s no slight to Duda, who finished 0-for-2 in his return from a stress fracture in his lower back. It’s more recognition of the fact that the Mets brought Duda to New York despite a complete lack of game action in the Minors, hoping he might work his way back into peak form.
Initially, the Mets planned to use Duda exclusively as a pinch-hitter. But they rethought things upon the first baseman’s arrival, deciding to plug him into Sunday’s starting lineup. The idea was that with only 14 games left in the season, the Mets need to gauge whether Duda — one of their most prolific sluggers the past three seasons — will be worthy of a spot on the playoff roster.
“We’ve got to find out,” Collins said. “We’ve got to get [Duda] in there. He’s here when we don’t have a lot of opportunities to get him a lot of at-bats, but you never know when you might need him.”
After receiving a warm ovation from the 28,926 fans at Citi Field, Duda grounded out in the first inning and struck out in the fourth, before Collins pulled him for a right-handed pinch-hitter with the bases loaded and no outs in the fifth. At one point during the game, Duda acknowledged to Collins how difficult it was to jump back into the Majors after four months of rehab, without a single at-bat to prepare him.
“That’s kind of what Lucas told me on the bench,” Collins said. “He said, ‘The game’s pretty fast up here.’ I said, ‘Yes, it is.'”
Also Sunday, Juan Lagares played the ninth inning as a defensive replacement in center field, marking his first game action since undergoing thumb surgery in August. The Mets plan on using Lagares, who is still incapable of swinging a bat, in similar fashion down the stretch.
Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2008. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo and Facebook, and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
Source: Mets News / Duda jumps back into game action