Duda hopes to be in the lineup in a few days while Mets explore backup options.
Lucas Duda is one of the many Mets coming off an injury plagued 2016, but good news came about Wednesday. It was reported that Duda resumed swinging a bat for the first time since suffering back spasms last week.
After bopping 57 homers between 2014-15, Duda was limited to just 47 games and seven homers last season because of a stress fracture in his lower back. Duda said “it was just a spasm that was treated very gingerly” and he expects to make his Grapefruit League debut within the next few days.
The Mets have several utility players that can play multiple positions. The first base spot has been patrolled by Wilmer Flores and top prospect, Dominic Smith. Also, T.J. Rivera has gotten some work at first. The Mets are also still moving forward with a plan that involves getting Jay Bruce some run at first.
Defensively, there is still a sense of curiosity in a couple of positions. Bruce has not used defense as a calling card in his career. His defensive WAR is -3.6 over nine MLB seasons. Plus, Bruce has only played three games at first base (in 2014) and committed two errors in that small sample size. However, for what it’s worth, Terry Collins was impressed with how Bruce handled grounders ahead of the Mets’ win Sunday against Detroit.
This team doesn’t have a ton of speed so we won’t see many stolen bases or hit-and-run tries. This is the same team that finished 28th in the Majors in stolen bases last year. On days where the offense is quiet, the defense is going to have to hold its own water. If Bruce can adjust, he’ll suddenly give the Mets another option in case Duda’s back issues flare up again.
Still nothing can replace live game experience at first, which should be coming soon for Bruce. It remains to be seen how he can truly adjust and transition to a different position. If he can do it though, that can at the very least provide some more potential lineup versatility.
As for Duda, it’s been a rough road the past year and change. Hopefully he’s able to stay on the field much more this season and contribute what we know he can.