NEW YORK -- The Mets committed to giving Lucas Duda an “extended look” at first base to allow him to sink or swim. The commitment was lukewarm at best.
How long will Duda get a chance?
Duda Davis Speaking about Ike Davis, manager Terry Collins said pregame Friday. “He may be the first baseman next week, you know? That’s why I don’t want to say anything, because everything is etched in stone around here. You make one statement and it’s a headline. This is not a headline. This is a move we’re going to make for a while and see what happens to try to get some consistent at-bats and to see if Lucas is going to do what we all think he can do. If he doesn’t, then we’ve got another option.”
Said Davis: “I’m sure there will be more adjusting as the season goes on. … I’m not going to get too many at-bats, but eventually something will happen and I’ll get a chance to play.”
Asked if the ultimate resolution is for one of his first basemen to be traded, Collins added: “That’s easy to say. That’s harder to do. When you say, ‘Well, you should trade Ike Davis,' well, we can trade Ike Davis. What are we going to get back? Is it fair? Ike Davis has got, for me, a high upside.
"Our job is not to give players away. This is partly a business, too. So when you say, ‘Hey, he should go someplace else,’ maybe he should, but there better be something coming back that you could use of the same value.”
Meanwhile, if Duda flops in the starting role and ends up as a bench player, the Mets plan to revisit Duda as an outfielder. They had abandoned Duda in the outfield last summer because of his lack of comfort there. Collins said it is particularly important to get Duda back in the outfield in that scenario because of Chris Young being on the disabled list with a right quadriceps strain.
How long a rope does Duda have in this audition? Collins indicated it would be “an extended period of time,” but did not define that length.
“How many days is that? I don’t know,” the manager said.
Still, the manager said, Davis would start one weekend game against the Cincinnati Reds at first base to try to stay sharp for a bench role.
The Mets are not expected to see any left-handed pitching during this series or the next one against the Atlanta Braves, which keeps Josh Satin out of the picture. Collins suggested anyway that Satin would start sometimes, but not all the time, when the Mets face southpaws.
“I talked to the coaches. We sat down and discussed this whole thing,” Collins said. “We want to see if Lucas Duda can be the first baseman. If something happens, if he doesn’t do it, or we think he doesn’t play it the way we want it played, then he becomes a guy that perhaps can go to other positions. So we’ll just see how it works out.”
Collins said the intention is to keep Davis at the major-league level with occasional starts for now, not to quickly dispatch him to the minors. That discussion may happen later, but “right now he’s on this team,” Collins said.
Collins said Davis could be a threat as a pinch-hitter, especially against the Reds, with only one lefty reliever in their bullpen.
“Ike and I had a long discussion about it yesterday,” Collins said. “One thing about Ike Davis: When you talk to Ike Davis, you’re going to get the truth. You’re going to get exactly how he feels. He’s disappointed. He should be, because he swung the bat pretty good this spring. I just said, ‘Hey, there comes a time, as we’re doing in a number of spots, we’ve got to find out some things.’ We’re not going to find out by alternating every other day.”
“It wasn’t so surprising,” Davis said.
He added that he and Duda remain close.
“It’s the same answers over and over: We’re friends. It doesn’t change that,” Davis said.