"He cares a lot," Collins said of Duda. "Going into Spring Training, there was a lot said about his importance and what he needed to do production-wise. When he started to struggle, he got frustrated, and again, that's human nature. He needed to go back and be the guy that got here. Be the same guy that hits the ball all over the field. ... The power will always be there. The power will come with good contact."
Duda batted .260 with three home runs and eight RBIs during his four-week sojourn in Buffalo, and Collins freely said that he didn't necessarily earn his promotion based on his numbers. It was more on the feel, said Collins, and the Mets have gotten good reports from Buffalo manager Wally Backman.
"Sometimes guys get sent out and they don't think they belong there. It's tough for them to get motivated again," said Collins. "I talked to Wally enough times. He said, 'Look, he's swinging better. He looks better at the plate.' Lucas Duda is a really good player and a big part of this thing. We need him back in the lineup. That's why he's here."
Duda, for his part, said he's happy to be back and fixated on salvaging his season with a hot September. He said he's happy to play wherever and hit wherever the Mets want him to, and he also said that he was initially disappointed by his demotion, but ultimately understood the reasoning.
"I didn't produce and I didn't play well. I would've done the same thing to myself," Duda said. "At the time, I was kind of disappointed, but at myself more than anything else. I was given this opportunity to play every day and I didn't make the most of it. I was definitely disappointed in myself, and a couple days later, I understood what was going on. If you don't produce, you don't play."
Valdespin, batting .242 with eight home runs in 75 games, will head back to Buffalo for a week and will return in September when rosters expand. Valdespin, said Collins, was caught in a roster crunch.
"He'll be back in a week. We needed a spot," Collins said. "Lucas is going to play. I said, 'Look, go down there and play. Get yourself in the lineup.' I want him to play some second base, too. I don't want him to just stick in the outfield. I want him to move around a little bit."