ATLANTA — The Mets did a complete turnaround on their plans for first base Monday night. After saying that Lucas Duda was the last option at first while struggling first baseman Ike Davis was down in Triple-A working on his swing, Terry Collins put Duda at first Monday night for the series opener against the Braves.
“Coming off (Sunday’s walk-off win) I asked my coaches, what do you think moving forward is our best lineup, and it was for Dan (Murphy) at second. And ultimately we decided our best lineup is Lucas at first,” the manager said.
It might have been a coincidence, but Duda responded to the move with four hits against the Braves. And just as importantly, he made a nice pick of a Murphy throw to end a Braves threat in the eighth inning.
The alignment shuffle meant that Jordany Valdespin, who had been given a chance at second, was back on the bench. Kirk Nieuwenhuis played left field while Juan Lageras was in center.
Duda came up as a first baseman, but was converted to an outfielder to get his bat in the lineup. He had played 45 games at first base before Monday night.
“I played there most of my amateur career. Hopefully I can catch the ball and throw it there,” said Duda, who raised his average from .226 to .241.
Last week, in the wake of Davis’ demotion, Collins said the team did not want to play Duda at first because it would send the message it was a long-term solution. Collins said this move was not because the franchise is concerned that Davis’ work in the minors will take longer than expected.
“We’ve taken other guys and said we’d put them where they are comfortable. The only guy we haven’t done it with is Lucas,” Collins said. “If we put him over there and if Ike gets it going, we’ll put him back in left field.
“(First is) where he plays the best. He’s excited about being back over there. It’s a very positive thing,” Collins said. “Dan wants to play second, he’s happy going back to second. We’ll see if it transforms us into a productive lineup.”
WHAT ABOUT BOB?
Bob Costas irritated Mets fans Sunday, when, while doing an update during the Masters, he took a shot at the Mets’ celebration of their walk-off win over the Cubs, but he called long-time Mets PR man Jay Horwitz Monday to say he meant no harm by the comments.
“And a team 14 games under .500 celebrates as if it just won the seventh game of the World Series,” Costas said sarcastically during the broadcast. “Another indication of the ongoing decline of western civilization,” he added.
Collins laughed it off and said he’d be more concerned if his team had not reacted to the walk-off win over the Cubs.
Pitcher Jeremy Hefner, who replied on Twitter that the team had the right to enjoy a win, said he had received a lot of positive feedback Sunday. “People were very nice about it,” Hefner said. “I got a lot of retweets.”
Justin Turner (strained left rib cage muscle) stayed behind in New York Monday to be examined by team doctors. Collins fears Turner may have to be put on the disabled list… Right-handed reliever Scott Atchison (elbow inflammation) is expected to return from the DL Tuesday… Monday, top catching prospect Travis d’Arnaud was cleared to run for the first time since fracturing a bone in his foot in April.