Lucas Duda did not start tonight’s 6-4 exhibition game loss against Washington, and won’t be in the lineup tomorrow. Look for him Wednesday or Thursday.
In his first two games, Duda went 0-for-7 with six strikeouts, and told reporters today, “we’re not going to hit the panic just yet.’’
The Mets will opt for extra work in the batting cage instead.Duda, who underwent wrist surgery in the offseason, began to swing the bat in late January rather than December, and has been limited so far this spring, and manager Terry Collins attributes that to his early problems.
This is a good tact to take with Duda, who is being heavily counted on this year to fill voids in left field and power production.
Collins said this is not a demotion and doesn’t want to embarrass Duda, and believes this is the best way to restore his confidence, which can’t be too high right about now.
Nieuwenhuis will get the first chance to win the job, but the Mets are concerned about his high strikeouts ratio. He struck out 98 times with 25 walks in 282 at-bats. He did hit seven homers, but who knows what his power potential can be? For the amount of times he strikes out, he would need to hit a lot more homers.
Cowgill started tonight in center and at leadoff. It has only been a couple of games, but Cowgill has made a good first impression with his hustle.
TONIGHT’S GAME: The Nationals got to Collin McHugh for three runs in 2.1 innings to beat the Mets tonight in Port St. Lucie. Bright spots were Ike Davis’ homer and a homer robbing catch by Matt den Dekker. David Wright got his first hit of the spring with an opposite field single in the sixth inning. Travis d’Arnaud went 1-for-2 with a single in the ninth.
SANTANA UPDATE: The Mets said today Johan Santana looks stronger after throwing off flat ground, which is only slightly more important than saying his uniform fits nicely.
Santana was pushed back because of a lack of arm strength and the Mets are saying his pitches in an exhibition game by March 10 or 11, he’ll need only four spring training starts to be ready by Opening Day.
I don’t know the reason for the rush on Santana. He’s clearly not physically ready and whether he’s on the roster Opening Day or April 15 or May 1 will make no difference. Let’s face it, Santana is fragile property and rushing him will backfire.
METS NOTEBOOK: Ruben Tejada was scratched from tonight’s game with a strained right quad. Tejada was replaced by Brandon Hicks and will not play Tuesday against Miami. … Frank Francisco threw on flat ground today, but there’s no timetable for when he’ll get in a game. In the interim, the Mets will use Bobby Parnell as the closer. Considering Parnell represents the future and Francisco does not, they should use the latter in a set-up or situational role.