Mets Lucas Duda gets ready to bat against the Washington...

Mets Lucas Duda gets ready to bat against the Washington Nationals in Port St. Lucie, Fla. (Feb. 23, 2013) Credit: Newsday/Alejandra Villa

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Mets leftfielder Lucas Duda has spent much of spring training working on changes to his swing. Lately, the adjustments seem to be paying off.

In Saturday's 9-6 victory over the Astros, Duda went 3-for-3 with a double and two RBIs. Since beginning by going 0-for-7 with six strikeouts, Duda is 6-for-15 with four strikeouts. He raised his average to .273.

"It's very encouraging," Terry Collins said. "It's most encouraging for Lucas Duda."

Duda, the only lock as a starter in the Mets' outfield, has had doubters about his ability to handle the outfield and whether his swing changes -- an attempt to eliminate excess movement -- will stick.

"I feel like I'm good in the outfield," said Duda, who will play strictly in leftfield after last year's failed experiment in right. "I feel like I'm a good hitter. So I'm going to continue to work hard every day and let the chips fall where they may."


A flash of leather

Outfielder Matt den Dekker added another sparkling catch to his growing collection this spring training. Playing centerfield in the third inning, den Dekker ranged deep into the left-centerfield gap and made a sliding catch to rob Trevor Crowe of a sure double. Said Collins, "I'm not too sure how many people are going to catch that ball that he caught today."


First cuts

The Mets reassigned catcher Juan Centeno and righthanded pitchers Cory Mazzoni and Rafael Montero to minor-league camp. The first cuts leave 55 players in camp.

Mazzoni, 23, the Mets' second-round pick in the 2011 draft, was 1-1 with a 3.38 ERA in four Grapefruit League appearances. Last season, Mazzoni went 10-6 with a 3.93 ERA in 26 starts with Class A St. Lucie and Double-A Binghamton.

Montero, 22, considered one of the organization's more promising arms, posted a 4.50 ERA in two appearances. Last season he was 11-5 with a 2.36 ERA in 20 starts with Class A Savannah and Class A St. Lucie.


Injury updates

Top catching prospect Travis d'Arnaud reported no issues one day after taking a fastball off his right forearm. He is scheduled to travel to Jupiter for Sunday's game against the Cardinals.

Second baseman Daniel Murphy, who has yet to play because of a strained right intercostal muscle, might be ready for Grapefruit League action by the end of next week.

Outfielder Kirk Nieuwenhuis might return to action as early as Wednesday. He has been out with a left knee bone bruise.

Reliever Frank Francisco has a good chance of throwing off a mound Monday for the first time. He has been out with right elbow inflammation.

Top pitching prospect Zack Wheeler will pitch in a simulated game Sunday, his first since an oblique strain.


Parcells to be honored

The Mets will present a gift to Bill Parcells before today's game against the Cardinals. The coaching great was voted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame last month.