NEW YORK -- Still feeling some of the lower back stiffness that forced him out of a doubleheader Tuesday in Denver, outfielder Lucas Duda took the field Friday afternoon trying to convince manager Terry Collins that he felt well enough to play.
"We are going to put him through the usual paces today -- have him hit, have him do all his throwing, have him warm up," Collins said before the Mets took the field for batting practice. "And if the stiffness doesn't subside, he'll be taken out."
The stiffness must have subsided, because Duda found himself in the starting lineup hours later against Stephen Strasburg and the Nationals, batting sixth and playing left field.
Duda showed no signs of the back stiffness, belting a pair of solo homers to help the Mets beat the Nationals, 7-1.
Duda is quietly enjoying a strong April for the Mets, with a .308 batting average, five home runs and a 1.235 OPS. He also has more walks (12) than strikeouts (11). Duda left the second game of Tuesday's doubleheader in the fifth inning due to back stiffness, which he said initially started bothering him in his first at-bat.