NEW YORK -- Lucas Duda showed such promise in 2011 that the hype surrounding him was at a new high by the time Spring Training rolled around this past February. But halfway through the 2012 season, his on-field performance had sunk so low the Mets saw no other choice than to option him to Triple-A.
When he was optioned in late July, Duda was batting just .241 (307 at-bats) with 44 RBIs and 94 strikeouts. In 301 total at-bats last season, Duda finished with a .292 average and 50 RBIs.
But as sluggish as his bat was, it was the struggles in right field that ultimately landed him in the Minors. Mets manager Terry Collins repeatedly stressed patiently waiting for his offense to come around, but his performance on the field made it difficult.
Since Duda rejoined the team last month, he has played mostly left field -- his most comfortable outfield position. But with the focus on getting him as many late-season at-bats as possible, starting him at first base -- as Collins did on Wednesday against the Nationals -- will become a more regular occurrence.
"The one thing we've got to do is start seeing Lucas Duda on a daily basis," Collins said. "I think it's important this time of year to take a look at some guys that certainly have a chance to be in the middle of your lineup in the future, so we've got to see what we can get out of them."
Wednesday marked Duda's first appearance at first base this season, though he played two games there during his midseason stint with Triple-A Buffalo. He started 37 games at the position last season as a result of Ike Davis' injured ankle.
Duda also posted his most impressive offensive numbers as a first baseman last season, batting .316 (42-for-133) with 20 RBIs.