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Friday, March 21, 2014
Lucas Duda returns with a bang

By Adam Rubin

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- A day after Ike Davis appeared in his first Grapefruit League game in 18 days, Lucas Duda ended an absence of an identical length.

Duda, who had been limited by a left hamstring injury, belted a two-run homer against Minnesota Twins right-hander Casey Fien and also was hit by a pitch in four plate appearances. He logged five innings at first base in the Mets’ 9-1 rout of the Twins at Hammond Stadium on Friday.

Duda demonstrated he had no reservation about testing the balky hamstring in a seven-run first inning against Ricky Nolasco. He scored all the way from first base on Davis’ double.

“Everything felt good,” Duda said.

Said Davis: “I didn’t get to see how he was moving, but he scored, so that’s obviously a good sign.”

As for the homer, Duda fouled off a slider, then deposited an 0-2 fastball away over the left-field wall.

“It was windy. I got the ball in the air, and the wind kind of took it,” Duda said. “It kind of hit the jet stream.”

It marked the first time Davis and Duda had appeared in the same Grapefruit League game since Feb. 28, the exhibition opener.

Davis went 3-for-3 with two doubles and a walk as the DH.

“I obviously just need to play more games so I can get the baserunning a little better and get ready for the season,” Davis said.

The Mets had resolved to get Duda some outfield work during spring training, as a way to potentially get both Davis and him into the lineup in the same game on occasion during the regular season. But once Duda injured the hamstring March 3, that outfield work ceased. So the only early season opportunity to get both in the lineup for the same game may be the second week of the season in Anaheim, when the Mets get to utilize the DH.

Terry Collins said the planned outfield work is off the table for now because of the hamstring injury as well as a need to get others playing time out there. At this point, the manager said, it would be on an "extremely rare" occasion when Duda started a regular-season game in the outfield.

The likelihood is Davis will get the first crack to platoon with Josh Satin at first base.

“I want us to both play, but obviously there’s only one spot,” Davis said. “Duda is a friend of mine. I always hope he does really, really well.”

Said Collins: "If somebody gets off to a slow start, we're going to make a change. We said we're going to win baseball games, so we've got to get out of the gate, and we've got to get out of it on a positive note. And if someone slumps, we've got someone behind him."