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Ike Davis and Lucas Duda both on short leashes no matter who wins first-base job

Mets' Ike Davis, left, and Lucas Duda talk

Mets' Ike Davis, left, and Lucas Duda talk during spring training practice Monday, Feb. 24, 2014 at Port St. Lucie, Fla. Credit: Newsday / Alejandra Villa

FORT MYERS, Fla. - With time running short -- only nine games left -- Ike Davis and Lucas Duda played with a sense of urgency Friday as the Mets' first-base competition entered its final stretch.

Davis, in his second game back from a calf injury that kept him out since March 2, had three hits, including a pair of doubles, in the Mets' 9-1 win over the Twins at Hammond Stadium.

Duda returned after an 18-game absence because of a hamstring strain and swatted a two-run homer over the leftfield wall. He also displayed surprising speed while scoring from first base on Davis' double.

What it all means, however, is difficult to say. Both players looked healthy, and that's a start. But as this sputtering showdown between Davis and Duda chugs along toward some kind of resolution, there probably will not be a satisfying conclusion for the Mets.

The end might be only the beginning. With few chances to truly evaluate these two players, one is likely to win the first-base job by default. And should he fail during the first month of the regular season, the Mets' contingency plan will be waiting at the other end of the bench.

"If somebody gets off to a slow start, we're going to make a change," Terry Collins said. "We said we're going to win baseball games, so we've got to get out of the gate, and we've got to get out of it on a positive note."

Regardless of who wins the job, the Mets have a platoon option in Josh Satin.

One option that now seems off the table is having the flexibility to stick Duda in the outfield. The hamstring issue prevented him from getting the necessary reps at the position, and Collins is reluctant to play him there for the remainder of the Grapefruit League schedule -- or early during the regular season.

"Not without work," Collins said. "He hasn't had any fly balls due to the injury. So right now, it will probably be extremely rare if he's out there."

Duda started at first base Friday and Davis was the designated hitter.

With the Mets playing split-squad games Sunday, each will get the chance to play first base, but Collins won't have the DH again until Wednesday against the Astros in Kissimmee.

Notes & quotes: The competition for the role of fifth starter still is wide open and Daisuke Matsuzaka and Jenrry Mejia maintain an equal chance of winning the job, according to a person with knowledge of the team's thinking. Matsuzaka had appeared to be the clear favorite . . . Dillon Gee continued his impressive spring training by allowing one run and five hits in 51/3 innings. He struck out four and has yet to issue a walk in 102/3 innings over three starts. Even though Gee likely will get the Opening Day nod, Collins has yet to make an official announcement . . . Ruben Tejada doubled in his first at-bat, running his streak to five straight hits, but did not get another.

In Port St. Lucie, closer Bobby Parnell saw a bump in his velocity Friday, topping out at 94 mph while tossing two shutout innings in a minor-league game . . . Jose Valverde threw a scoreless inning . . . Matt Harvey progressed to 75 feet in his long-toss program, part of his rehab from Tommy John surgery.

With Marc Carig

New York Sports