Duda still hopeful he can stay off DL

Mets first baseman remains hampered by lumbar strain

Duda still hopeful he can stay off DL

NEW YORK -- Mets manager Terry Collins said Lucas Duda's 12th-inning pinch-hitting appearance in Saturday's 5-3 loss to Pittsburgh shouldn't affect the plan for him to return to starting action Tuesday in Baltimore.

"He's making headway," Collins said. "We're certainly targeting Tuesday for him getting back in that lineup."

Inactive with a lumbar strain since Aug. 11, Duda sat for the fifth consecutive game on Saturday before circumstance forced Collins' hand. With the game tied at 3 in the 12th, Collins' only other bench option was to use backup catcher Anthony Recker when reliever Hansel Robles' lineup spot came up. Duda walked and advanced to second on a single before being stranded.

The Mets continue to hope Duda won't need a disabled-list stint. If he does, they'll no longer be able to backdate it. They had planned not to rush him back with Pittsburgh starting left-hander Jeff Locke on Sunday and the Mets having a scheduled off-day Monday.

"He's getting there," Collins said, of Duda's return. "We made sure he had plenty of time, we made sure he was loose every single time he may have had to hit. We made sure he was stretched out."

Duda underwent a full pregame workout on Saturday, throwing and taking infield grounders. He's repeatedly downplayed the severity of the injury and felt confident in the progress a dose of medication taken Thursday provided.

Affable teammate Juan Uribe teased Duda about missing another game Saturday, jocularly grabbing his back and wincing. That was before the Mets scuffled for offense in a second consecutive loss to Pittsburgh. New York won its first three games without its home run and RBIs leader.

Joe Trezza is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.