Lucas Duda has moved into the third and final stage of his rehab from a strained intercostal muscle. He appeared as a pinch hitter in last night’s 5-2 win over the Memphis Cardinals, walking in his only plate appearance. Judging by how he’s performed thus far in the Gulf Coast League and Florida State League, he may be with Ruben Tejada in Triple-A for an extended period of time. It also helps that the big league outfield is performing just fine with the likes of Eric Young, Jr., Juan Lagares, and Marlon Byrd.
In 11 games and 41 at-bats between the GCL and FSL, Duda has only collected seven hits and five walks, while striking out 15 times. That includes a big goose egg in 13 GCL at-bats, which didn’t sit well with Mets fans upon the news of him moving on to High-A with St. Lucie.
I’ve been in favor of major leaguers spending time in the minors to get in a groove at the plate following an injury, and earning their way back to the majors. It shows them that nothing should be taken for granted. However, I don’t think Duda should be continuing to play the outfield in Las Vegas, like he has at his other rehab stops.
Moving forward, the biggest question for the Mets (outside of who is going to play shortstop) is who will play first base. Will it be Duda, Ike Davis, or someone else? The outfield picture has cleared up a bit; Lagares is emerging as a potential solution, as is Young. With Cesar Puello coming back from his suspension next season, Sandy Alderson needs to acquire more than one outfielder this off-season.
With that situation becoming more clear, that leaves Duda on the outside looking in for a spot in the outfield. His natural position is first base, and when he played that position in the majors following Ike’s demotion, he performed pretty well. So, why not have an open audition between the two in September? They both know their futures in the organization are hanging in the balance, mostly depending on their performance through the remainder of the season.
I say light another fire under each of them and have them split time at first base next month. The Mets need to make a decision on which player should be a part of their future, so put them up against each other, and see who rises to the occasion.