PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — After soreness in his back and hips delayed his Grapefruit League debut, Lucas Duda knocked in a pair of runs Friday in the Mets’ 11-3 win over the Astros.
“I’m a little bit rusty, but it’s part of the deal,” said Duda, who went 1-for-2 with a two-run double. “Just keep working and see where we end up . . . I feel great, so that’s the main thing.”
Duda missed much of last season with a stress fracture in his back. His health again has emerged as an issue, especially after soreness kept him out of exhibition games for nearly a week. But he came out of his first appearance with no problems.
Now he must get up to speed against live pitching. Duda was out from May 20 to Sept. 18. He got 23 at-bats in eight games after his return.
It wasn’t much, but Duda said it has made it easier for him to regain his timing this year. “That was pretty crucial,” said Duda, who hit .229 with seven homers in 47 games. “Even when I did come back, I had two weeks to prepare. It wasn’t where I wanted to be. But health-wise, I’m right where I need to be, and that’s the most important thing.”
Manager Terry Collins might use Duda as the designated hitter Saturday against the Astros.
The Mets renewed Noah Syndergaard’s contract. A source confirmed that his deal is worth $605,500.
The club also agreed to terms with 20 other players who are not yet eligible for arbitration. All received deals just above the league minimum of $530,000. The group includes Steven Matz, Seth Lugo, Robert Gsellman and Michael Conforto.