What first appeared to be a balky back ended up costing Lucas Duda nearly four months of 2016 season. The veteran first baseman was off to a slow start, slashing .231/.297/.431 with seven homers when he was placed on the DL on May 20. Duda returned on Sept. 20, hitting just .217 with no homers in 23 at-bats the rest of the way. While the sample of games Duda played in 2016 is too small to alter his performance baseline, it's imperative to note the veteran missed time the last week of the season due to a sore back and was not active for the Mets' wild card tilt. So, what we have is a power-hitting first baseman who's a batting average liability on the wrong side of 30 years old, coming off a severe back injury that was still bothersome after missing four months or action. If healthy, Duda still has the pop to hit 30 homers but the injury risk means it's best to earmark him for a corner or utility spot, with a backup on reserve.
Duda went 1-for-3 with a solo home run, his second blast of the spring, in Monday's Grapefruit League game against the Marlins. The Mets continue to launch homers like they're playing in the thin desert air of the Cactus League, and three-quarters of their starting infield went yard in this one. Duda got a late start to his spring due to a sore back, but since getting onto the field he's hitting a fearsome .375/.412/1.000 in 16 at-bats.
Duda went 1-for-2 with a walk and a two-run homer, his first long ball of the spring, in Friday's split-squad game against the Astros. The back issues that slowed the beginning of his spring campaign are firmly in his rearview mirror, and Duda's now slashing .500/.545/1.200 over his first 10 at-bats in Grapefruit League action. The Mets currently lead the majors in spring training homers, and while that's completely meaningless in the second week of March, a resurgent Duda could help them capture that crown during the regular season.
Duda went 2-for-3 with two doubles and an RBI in Saturday's Grapefruit League game against the Astros. The back issue that slowed him at the beginning of camp appears to be in the rearview mirror for Duda. If he can stay healthy through the rest of spring training and keep raking, his ADP could rise significantly before Opening Day given his power potential and solid RBI opportunities from the heart of the Mets' offense.
Duda (back) is in the Mets' Grapefruit League lineup at first base Friday, Mike Puma of the New York Post reports. The masher has been working his way back into the fray after dealing with some back woes. After missing a large chunk of 2016 due to similar problems, many fantasy drafters might've forgotten that he launched 30 home runs in 2014 and 27 in 2015. If a mixed draft room avoids him and his price tanks, fantasy owners should abide by taking Duda for his late-round power potential -- of course, it'd be nice for him to show ample spring evidence that his thump still exists before then.
Duda (back) resumed swinging Wednesday and his first session went without a hitch, Matt Ehalt of The Record reports. The slugger received cortisone shots in his hip Friday, but it seems like his return to his normal routine was good enough to quell any doubts that he'll be fine moving forward. Look for Duda to make his spring debut in the coming days unless another setback in his recovery process comes forth.