ATLANTA -- Lucas Duda found himself on the bench for Saturday's game against the Braves. The official explanation was a sore left hamstring, an injury that Duda said has bothered him for "a couple of weeks." But Duda's .140 average (7-for-50) in the last 14 games probably hasn't helped his cause, and the hamstring issue made it more convenient for him to take a breather.
"We're going to give him a couple of days to rest it," manager Terry Collins said. "We'll use him late in the game if we need him. But as I told him, I'd rather have him on the bench than have him start the game, especially in this humidity, and have him cramp up. Then it really shortens the moves you can make."
With Jason Bay inching closer to a return, possibly as soon as Tuesday in Washington, Duda is in jeopardy of losing even more playing time. He entered Saturday in the ninth inning and struck out to end the 8-7 loss to the Braves. Collins said he plans to use Bay in leftfield, Andres Torres in center and Scott Hairston in right against lefthanded starters. Hairston is batting .295 against lefties with nine home runs, which is tied for the most in the National League.
"In Lucas' case, it's all about the bat," Collins said. "If he's driving in runs like he was early in the year, you can get by with some things, because the one thing you don't want to do is take his bat out of the lineup. When he's not hitting, both sides of the game have to be analyzed a little bit, and he knows that."
Collins was referring to Duda's suspect glovework in right.
Collins remarked that Josh Thole could have done a better job helping Josh Edgin get past Chipper Jones in Friday's loss. Edgin hung a 3-and-2 slider that Jones smacked for a homer, and Collins said Thole should have encouraged the lefthander to stay outside the strike zone with the lefthanded Freddie Freeman up next. "I talked to Thole about getting him through that," Collins said . . . Mike Baxter (displaced right collarbone) will begin a rehab assignment Sunday at Class A St. Lucie.
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