The New York Mets have only played two spring training games, and already trouble is brewing for them in left field. Lucas Duda, who manager Terry Collins has said is the only outfielder guaranteed of a spot, is off to a nightmare start just two games into the Grapefruit League schedule. Duda is 0-for-7 and has struck out six times over his first two games, receiving the dreaded golden sombrero on Sunday during a spring training game against the Houston Astros.
It is only two meaningless spring training games, but considering how much Duda struggled last season, to the point that he was demoted to AAA, and how much the Mets are counting on him this year, it’s a far cry from what the Mets wanted to see out of him. It’s not as if Duda is facing the best of the best at this point in the season, as most of the pitchers in spring games won’t be appearing in the majors this year, if ever, so Duda should not be looking this inept at the plate.
It’s true that Duda had to recover from a broken wrist he suffered in the offseason and that he is working on a new stance, but six strikeouts in seven at bats is too much for someone with as much big league experience as Duda. It may not be time to press the panic button on Duda just yet, but he’s not exactly doing a lot to indicate that this year will be different from last year, nor is he instilling a lot of confidence in Collins and the Mets. Things will certainly get better for Duda as spring goes along, but that’s mostly because things can’t get much worse than what Duda has shown in the first two exhibition games of the spring season.