NEW YORK – Lucas Duda is getting a chance to be the New York Mets’ regular first baseman.
Mets manager Terry Collins said Duda will get the bulk of the playing time over Ike Davis for the foreseeable future. New York started a different first baseman in each of its first three games for the first time in team history: Davis, Josh Satin and Duda.
Collins said the team needed to make a decision and it’s time to find out if Duda can hold down the job.
“We all want to see if Lucas can handle it,” Collins said. “We’ll just see how it works out.”
When healthy, Davis usually has been the starter at first base since he had 19 homers and 71 RBIs as a rookie in 2010. But he got off to miserable starts the past two seasons and was demoted to the minors last June for 3 1/2 weeks.
“He’s disappointed. He should be, because he swung the bat pretty good this spring,” Collins said. “I just said, ‘Hey, there comes a time, with a number of spots right now, we’ve got to find out some things. And we’re not going to find out by alternating you every other day.”
Collins was asked if he thinks Davis still has a big future with the Mets.
“Only time will tell. I have no idea. He may be the first baseman next week,” the manager said. “This may work out to be great, it may not. I don’t know.”
Davis and Duda were supposed to compete for playing time in spring training, but both were limited to 10 games because of leg injuries.
Duda batted fifth Friday night against Cincinnati right-hander Mike Leake and hit a two-run homer in the fourth inning. Collins said Davis can be a dangerous bat off the bench, though an assignment to Triple-A Las Vegas at some point so he can stay sharp is not out of the question.
“He’s brought up, if there comes a time where you think you need to get at-bats, we’ll sit down and discuss what our options may be. But right now he’s on this team,” Collins said. “Like Ike told me, he’s never really been a bench player. … It’s not going to be easy for him, for sure.”
With the Reds planning to start three right-handers, Collins said Davis will get a start in the series. Duda, however, probably will play three out of four days, the manager said.
Satin, a right-handed hitter, started the second game of the season against Washington lefty Gio Gonzalez.
Duda began the night 0 for 6 with three strikeouts. Davis was 1 for 3 with a walk.
“I just thought it wasn’t going to work just platooning them here, just finding a day here and a day there. I wanted to see somebody out there for at least an extended period of time,”Collins said. “How many days is that? I don’t know.
“I just didn’t think it was fair to anybody coming to the ballpark every day not knowing what their role was.”
Duda took over at first base after Davis’ season-ending muscle strain on his right side on Aug. 31.
Davis and Duda are both left-handed hitters with plenty of power but a penchant for strikeouts. Each had an impressive start to his big league career a few years ago, but neither has been able to sustain that success.
The Mets tried putting Duda in the outfield, where he struggled. Collins said he thinks if Duda can’t produce consistently enough to start at first base, he’ll need to get work in the outfield again so he could provide some versatility off the bench.
Duda had a .352 on-base percentage last year with 15 homers and 33 RBIs in 318 at-bats. Davis had a .326 OBP with nine home runs and 33 RBIs in 317 at-bats.