From Left Field: Playing With A Short Leash Is A Tough Way To Play

An article by posted on March 27, 2014

lucas duda ike davis

So it’s looks as though the Mets will be carrying both Ike Davis and Lucas Duda on the 25-man roster come Monday’s Opening Day.

The injuries to both this spring precluded the team from being confident in naming a starter. It does look like though that Davis will get the first crack at the position.

If absolutely necessary, Duda could see time in left field, but let’s hope that never happens. He could be a nice lefty power bat off the bench however, along with Andrew Brown from the right side – if he makes the final roster.

So let’s say Davis gets the starting nod.

With Duda on the roster, Terry Collins has the option of playing the hot hand. But the problem with that is when you’re a player, a vote of confidence from the organization is huge to your performance.

I understand that this is a results-driven business. But imagine being in Davis or Duda’s shoes.

You go out there on Opening Day and go 0-for-4 with two strikeouts and four men left on base in key situations (hopefully not!). Not to mention you make an error in the field.

Not only would you hear the boo-birds from the fans the next day, but there may not even be a next day, since there is another first baseman – actually two if you include Josh Satin – on the roster.

If David Wright has that kind of day at the plate, he doesn’t have to worry about potentially losing his job. He forgets about it and moves on to the next day.

But for Davis and Duda, everything they do on the field will be highly scrutinized, and that’s a tough way to play.

Granted, the inconsistent performances of Davis and Duda, not only this spring but also throughout their entire careers, have put them in this situation. But still, when a ballplayer harps on a poor game, it undoubtedly affects him moving forward.

In a perfect world, Davis is given the nod and gets off to a great start. Duda fills in whenever necessary and maybe settles in to a pinch-hitting role. I do like the thought of Duda coming off the bench late in the game with the potential for some fireworks.

If Davis remains hot, trade Duda to an American League team where he could DH.

Now, let’s say Davis struggles out of the gate. I at least want him to be given the full month of April to show if he’s still got it. If after April he’s hitting .150, then make the switch to Duda on a permanent basis – or until he falters as well. Then go with Satin, who actually did a decent job last season.

But flip-flopping back-and-forth and game-to-game won’t do anybody any good.

About the Author ()

Jim Mancari hails from Massapequa, N.Y. He earned a Master's degree in journalism from Hofstra University. He is a devout Mets fan and takes pride in his team, despite their lack of success over the last few years. Like all Mets fans, Jim has plenty of hope. He also writes as the sports reporter for the Brooklyn Tablet newspaper and the senior editor of metroBASEBALL Magazine. Be sure to visit http://www.jimmancari.com/

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