Lucas Duda expected to return on Sunday
Terry Collins said on Wednesday that Lucas Duda, who has been dealing with a strained intercostal muscle in his left side, is expected to make his Grapefruit League debut on Sunday.
Duda took batting practice on Monday for the first time in over three weeks, advancing from swinging off a tee and hitting soft tosses.
Duda has been on a deliberate pace since the intercostal issue first popped up, but he’s been working out with the team ever since the injury was reported on February 24.
According to Duda, the issue arose in the middle of February.
Duda, who hit .253/.349/.481 with 30 home runs and 92 RBI last season for the Mets, is the lone expected regular who has yet to appear in a game this Spring.
Once Duda returns, the lineup – on days when the Mets are in Port St. Lucie – could look like this:
Juan Lagares, CF
Curtis Granderson, RF
David Wright, 3B
Lucas Duda, 1B
Michael Cuddyer, LF
Daniel Murphy, 2B
Travis d’Arnaud, C
Wilmer Flores, SS
This season, it’s expected that Duda will get the bulk of the starts at first base – against both lefties and righties – but he may be spelled on occasion by either Michael Cuddyer or John Mayberry, Jr. against some of the tougher left-handed starting pitchers.
While it took a bit longer than initially thought for Duda to be given an expected return date, the Mets clearly erred on the side of caution here with so much time left before the regular season begins.
Intercostal injuries can be tricky, and Duda is one of the players the Mets can least afford to lose. While Michael Cuddyer would be able to slide to first base if Duda is out, subtracting Duda and adding Cuddyer’s replacement in the outfield would likely weaken the lineup significantly.
If Duda returns as expected on Sunday, he’ll have roughly three weeks to get ready for the season, which kicks off on April 6 in Washington, D.C.
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