Lucas Duda was demoted to Buffalo Tuesday, the act of a team trying to do anything to keep the window of relevance open just a little bit longer.
"I got to find some offense," manager Terry Collins said, underlining his new, unwelcome task of trying to right a season in tailspin. The Mets sent Duda to Triple-A and called up reliever Manny Acosta, a move indicating that in addition to offense, the team has to find some pitching, too. Acosta pitched a scoreless seventh inning Tuesday night.
"We just told [Duda] we got to get this fixed. Right now . . . you're not playing good," Collins said. "I just hope Lucas goes down and tears it up and gets back here."
Duda was not in the clubhouse to speak to reporters and his locker had already been emptied before the game.
Duda's batting average dropped from .258 to .241 since June 30, and he's seen declines in all major offensive categories. He's 6-for-43 (.140) this month with a home run and an RBI. He hasn't had a multihit game since his 2-for-4 against the Dodgers on June 29 and has only two extra-base hits this month.
Collins said he planned to platoon in rightfield, "going with the hot hand." Tuesday night, Scott Hairston played right. Jordany Valdespin (who homered pinch hitting for Mike Nickeas in the eighth) and Kirk Nieuwenhuis will also see time at the position.
Despite Duda's struggles, the quick trigger is a sign this is a much different team from the one that showed patience with Ike Davis. He rebounded slightly from an early-season swoon and although hitting .208, he is one of the team leaders in home runs and RBIs.
"Number one, we were playing good," Collins said of the difference between Davis and Duda. "With Ike Davis, he was not hurting us from our performance as a team. Lucas has been really struggling lately."
Davis said he didn't know that Duda was in danger of being sent down.
"No one really knew," he said. "I feel horrible . . . It's a really bad time for him to go on a slump, I guess. I don't even know if you can really call it a slump. He was still hitting, I don't know, .250 with 12 homers.
"Some may say that's a pretty good year so far. I would. I'd take it."
Also of concern was Duda's mind-set in rightfield, Collins said. Playing a new position, Collins wondered whether defensive discomfort was carrying over to his at-bats.
"He'll tell you it probably didn't," Collins said, "but what we saw in the last month is not the Lucas Duda that we know. Everything is pull, pull, pull."
Duda will play first base and leftfield at Buffalo, positions he's more comfortable with, "so he can concentrate on his offense, because that's what's going to get him back here," the manager said. If he returns, Collins said he would consider using him in left, along with Jason Bay.
"He was disappointed," Collins said of Duda's reaction. "Probably disappointed in himself as much as anything.
"[But] you got 24 hours to pout . . . You throw bats, you tell everybody how bad [a deal] you got, nobody likes you. You can do it for 24 hours and then you got to play, because you're the only one who's going to get you back here."