Duda’s Defense In Right Will Be A Big Focus In Spring Training

An article by posted on February 16, 2012

Andrew Keh of the NY Times says the Mets have replicated the new dimensions at Citi Field at the team’s spring training complex in Florida. Field 6, which was initially constructed with fences that mimicked the original shape of Citi Field, was altered this winter to match the stadium’s new design.

So far, it has been left unused by the players who came here this week for voluntary workouts, and no one is expected to practice there before the team officially opens spring training next week. But when they do, the first fly balls there will carry with them a significant dose of intrigue.

Good call by the Mets in my opinion and it will be interesting to hear what kind of feedback we get from the players once they start playing some games there.

In addition to getting a feel for what it will be like to hit at Citi Field, it will also be useful Lucas Duda who really needs to elevate his play in right field.

Mark Simon of ESPN shared some insight on Duda’s defensive problems last season:

Duda had trouble coming in on balls and he had trouble going back on balls too. Duda had four Defensive Misplays for failing to anticipate the fence, which rated his biggest defensive issue. Pro-rated over a full season, Duda’s misplay rate would come equate to nearly 60 Defensive Misplays & Errors for an everyday player over a full season. That would be about as bad as could be. Last year’s major league leaders, Justin Upton of the Diamondbacks and Mike Stanton of the Marlins, had 49.

Yes, Duda emerged as a viable hitter with power for the Mets after he replaced Carlos Beltran in right field last season. But he looked like a train wreck defensively. Now with the new dimensions, he can gain some valuable reps out there that could make his job easier. Duda told Keh that he is eager to start the process.

“I can’t wait to get out there,” Duda said of Field 6. “My routes have to get a lot more precise, so it’ll be a good thing to go out there and start to get used to the dimensions.”

By the way, Mets outfielder instructor Tom Goodwin is already in camp and working with Duda on getting a better jump on balls.

Duda is going to be an important piece of the puzzle in 2012, and this focus on fielding his position well, should pay some nice dividends for Terry Collins and the Mets this season.

Collins, incidentally, sees the situation with Duda like this: “This guy is going to be a monster.”

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