PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. - In his first Grapefruit League action, Mets slugger Lucas Duda went 1-for-4 in Saturday's 13-4 victory over the Nationals.
Duda started as the designated hitter and is expected to play first base Sunday against the Rays in Port Charlotte.
He had been expected to make his debut Sunday but felt good enough to play in a game a day early.
"I felt good," said Duda, who has been sidelined for the past month with a strained intercostal muscle. "The timing's a little bit off, but my body felt great."
Duda's return comes at a good time, early enough in camp that he has no concerns about getting ready for the season. Three weeks remain before Opening Day, and Duda thinks he needs about two weeks to regain his timing.
"We gotta get him ready because he's a big part of the offense," manager Terry Collins said.
The Mets face questions about whether they can produce enough to support what is expected to be a stellar pitching staff. A command performance by Duda would go a long way toward allaying those concerns.
"It's nice to have him healthy," David Wright said.
In what was a breakout season in 2014, Duda ranked among the National League's most dangerous hitters. He led the Mets in homers (30), RBIs (92) and on-base plus slugging (.830).
Vic Black said he was "very happy" and "relieved" when an MRI exam revealed no structural damage in his achy right shoulder.
Black, 26, expects to rest for a few days before getting back on a pitcher's mound.
"It's better to say something rather than go out and fight through another inning despite getting good results," he said. "It's better to feel good doing it rather than 80 percent."
Black said he dealt with an achy shoulder on and off through the offseason and that the symptoms returned in spring training. His most recent MRI matched one that he had in January. It also showed no structural damage.
"I'm not too concerned," Black said. "Which is good news."
Black is coming off his best big-league season. He was 2-3 with a 2.60 ERA in 41 appearances while carving out a spot for himself in the Mets' bullpen.
Black has allowed one run in two innings of Grapefruit League appearances.
Josh Edgin has yet to decide whether he will undergo surgery to repair a damaged ligament in his left elbow . . . With Zack Wheeler scratched Saturday, replacement starter Tyler Pill tossed 21/3 scoreless innings . . . Bobby Parnell (left hamstring strain) could be ready to pitch in a minor-league game by Tuesday . . . Michael Cuddyer and John Mayberry Jr. each hit his second home run of spring training . . . The Mets have scored 37 runs in their last three Grapefruit League games . . . Lefthanded reliever Scott Rice tossed a scoreless inning to lower his ERA to 9.82 . . . Dillon Gee endured a rough relief appearance, giving up two runs and three hits in one inning. Gee is trying to make the move from the rotation to the bullpen.
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