Mets first baseman Lucas Duda has begun baseball activities in Port St. Lucie. For now, those activities include running and playing catch. Duda has been on the disabled list since May 23 because of a stress fracture in his lower back.
Before that, Duda hadn’t been himself as a hitter. In 145 plate appearances, he hit just .231/.297/.431 with seven home runs. The power was pretty normal for Duda, as that’s a pace of 29 home runs over the course of 600 plate appearances—almost exactly what he did in each of the past two seasons. His average wasn’t that far off what he hit in the past two years, either, but he drew walks a much lower clip than usual.
While a rehab assignment still doesn’t seem imminent, Duda’s return would be a very welcome sight. In his absence, the Mets eventually acquired James Loney, and he’s hit well, with a .284/.342/.439 in 162 plate appearances coming into the Mets’ Tuesday night game in Chicago. Both the batting average and on-base percentage are similar to what Loney did over the past two years, but he hasn’t hit for nearly that much power since 2013. If a fully-healthy Duda returns to the Mets, there’s no doubt he should start at first base over Loney.