I expressed my concerns about Lucas Duda’s 0-7 start late last night, which you can read below. I was not surprised by what I predicted would be an avalanche of “it’s only two games” rebuttals. There they are for all of you to see. It seems like many readers chose to ignore that it was Terry Collins who referred to Duda as a “work in progress” and that those were his words and not mine.
But, that’s the way it goes when you post unpopular opinions these days. A beautiful lie is always better than a horrible truth.
Further validating much of what I said last night, is what Terry Collins told reporters today in Port St. Lucie.
“Lucas Duda will not play in any games for the next few days,” the Mets manager said.
“And, as you guys know, I’m not here to embarrass anybody. So when he’s ready to play, we’re going to get him back in there. I’m hoping by Wednesday or Thursday he’s back in the lineup.”
Collins says Duda is not hurt, is not in pain and his wrist if fine. He just needs more work, which was another point I brought up last night.
The Mets’ starting left fielder has been in camp longer than anyone else on the roster. Duda has been swinging and working exclusively with hitting coach Dave Hudgens ever since early January day in and day out. Only three days ago Duda said he felt great and his swing was great, MetsBlog said his swing looked great, crowds were gathering to see him hit, yada, yada, yada…
So does this new revelation come as a shock to me?
No, of course not, I expected this.
One look at him was all I needed to see something was awry. His swing looked awful. He hits like he has one foot in a bucket. I don’t need more than seven at-bats to see that – I’ve been watching this game for 40 years.
So Duda will get more work on his swing – the same swing he didn’t correct during a demotion to Buffalo – the same swing that led to an awful first half that got him demoted in the first place. Hopefully, this new attempt to fix him will breed better results.
Duda may be is 0-for-7 with six strikeouts over his first two Grapefruit League games, but that’s the least of his concerns right now.
The Mets need find a quick fix for him fast, or we may be begging for Jason Bay in left field by the time May rolls around. (Yes Donal and Taskmaster, that’s a joke.)
I will be on a conference call with Sandy Alderson on Wednesday. Looking forward to hearing what he has to say about the season and hearing his responses to our questions and concerns.
Original Post 09:00 AM
Despite never having started more than 150 games in the outfield during his three year career, Duda is in fact the most seasoned outfielder the Mes have on their roster. He’s the one everyone is counting on – the one everyone is banking on.
Last Spring, Sandy Alderson said that Duda would end up having a similar career to Jason Giambi because they had the same power with an excellent eye at the plate, and the Mets GM even likened Duda to Joey Votto. Manager Terry Collins made a similar analogy to Votto a few days later during an interview on WFAN.
Then the 2012 started… Let’s just say things didn’t work out the way Collins and Alderson thought they would.
The slugger with the excellent eye and tremendous power couldn’t hit a breaking ball to save his life and he loved chasing everything out of the strikezone. And even a trip to Buffalo did little to remedy the situation.
SNY broadcaster Keith Hernandez lamented the fact that there was no change to his swing when Duda returned from Buffalo. “That’s the same Lucas Duda who struggled in the first half,” Hernandez said. “Bad swing and all.”
Duda in fact batted .234 after he returned from the minors, and his on-base, slugging percentage, and OPS was significantly worse than before he was sent down – he did not improve one bit.
So my questions is, what exactly did he learn from being sent down? Or more importantly, where was the evidence he learned anything at all?
A few days ago, Michael Baron of MetsBlog was very encouraged after watching Duda in the batting cage. “While the hitch was apparent when I arrived here last week, it is noticeably absent when he swings the bat now, Baron wrote. “It all looks great now, and Duda put on an impressive display during his batting practice session.”
Even Duda himself admitted that he has made changes to his batting stance, saying “ I eliminated the toe-tap,: he told reporters last Thursday. “My hands in the past have been kind of crazy. It’s a lot quieter now.”
After striking out in each of his four at-bats on Sunday against the Astros, Duda, is now 0-for-7 with six strikeouts through his first two game.
Reason for concern? Of course it is considering how much is riding on him this season. Unlike the other hitters in camp who only arrived a week or two ago, Duda has been swinging and hacking away since early January – working closely with hitting coach Dave Hudgens. Duda’s been in the cage everyday learning how to work counts and being more patient. So this isn’t exactly a case of Duda shaking off three months worth of rust.
“He’s trying to change his stride a little bit so it’s not so much movement, and he’s just not getting himself in hitting position right now,” Terry Collins said after the game. “It’s a work in progress.”
And therein lies the problem… As Duda prepares to begin his fourth season in the majors, he’s still a work in progress.
Cue the “it’s only two spring training games” retorts.
That always makes everything better doesn’t it? Rave about the players who had a great first one or two games, and excuse the players with bad starts with a tried and tested spring training excuse.
Excuse me for saying I’m very concerned, or that Duda looks no different now than he did before his demotion to Buffalo.
Wouldn’t it be great if MLB would make a special ruling for the Mets that would allow Lucas Duda to face batting practice pitchers when it was his turn at the plate?