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Lucas Duda out of Mets-Rockies finale with back stiffness

Lucas Duda of the Mets looks on during

Lucas Duda of the Mets looks on during batting practice prior to the game against the St. Louis Cardinals at Tradition Field. (Feb. 27, 2013) (Credit: Getty Images)

DENVER -- Lucas Duda was out of the Mets' starting lineup for Thursday afternoon's frigid series finale against the Rockies. The leftfielder's still suffering from lingering effects of the lower back stiffness that forced him to leave Tuesday's second game in the fifth inning.

"There's a process that we want to make sure he goes through before he's ready and 22 degrees is really not the time to test it," Mets manager Terry Collins said.

A few more notes from Collins' pregame media briefing:

-- Marlon Byrd will start in centerfield due to his experience manning the position. Jordany Valdespin has less experience in centerfield and in Coors Field in particular -- where the altitude causes fly balls to carry farther than in other parks. With temperatures in the 30s all week, the Mets haven't taken batting practice on the field, a time that outfielder typically use to acclimate themselves to how fly balls will react in the thin air here.

"Marlon I know has played center," said Collins, who watched both Valdespin and Mike Baxter misplay fly balls on Tuesday. "He's played it here."

-- Righthander Shaun Marcum will throw about 75 pitches in a simulated game in Florida. Collins said that Marcum will need at least one more outing of about 90 pitches before the team can consider activating him from the disabled list. Marcum has been down since mid-March with various physical ailments though Collins said the 31-year-old has not complained of any maladies recently.

-- Reliever Frank Francisco pitched one scoreless inning in his first minor-league rehab appearance for Class-A St. Lucie on Wednesday night. However, Collins said Francisco [right elbow inflammation] has reported discomfort following some of his throwing sessions.

-- Lefty specialist Pedro Feliciano also tossed one scoreless inning for Class-A St. Lucie on Wednesday night. He has allowed just one hit in two outings. The team asked Feliciano to remain in the minors to build up his arm strength. The Mets had reservations about his fastball velocity -- which remained in the low 80s during spring training -- and also his ability to pitch on consecutive nights.

-- Starting pitcher Matt Harvey traveled back to New York ahead of the team to prepare for Friday night's showdown against the Nationals and their phenom, Stephen Strasburg.

-- Collins reiterated that he has no plans to shelve shortstop Ruben Tejada, who has committed six errors in the Mets' first 13 games, including a critical miscue that cost the Mets a victory on Tuesday.

-- The starting lineups for Thursday's series finale as Rockies righty Jon Garland (1-0, 3.75) faces Mets lefty Jonathon Niese (2-0, 3.57):

Mets (7-6)

Jordany Valdespin LF
Daniel Murphy 2B
David Wright 3B
Ike Davis 1B
John Buck C
Marlon Byrd CF
Mike Baxter CF
Ruben Tejada SS
Jonathon Niese LHP

Rockies (10-4)

Eric Young RF
Dexter Fowler CF
Carlos Gonzalez LF
Troy Tulowitzki SS
Willin Rosario C
Todd Helton 1B
Josh Rutledge 2B
Chris Nelson 3B
Jon Garland RHP

Tags: Mets , Lucas Duda , Terry Collins , Frank Francisco , Shaun Marcum , Pedro Feliciano , Marlon Byrd , Jordany Valdespin , Mike Baxter

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