Back forces Duda to DL as Mets recall Alvarez

Back forces Duda to DL as Mets recall Alvarez

DENVER -- A back injury that has already robbed Lucas Duda of significant August playing time now has him sidelined for the rest of the month. The Mets placed Duda on the disabled list Saturday with a recurrence of the lumbar strain that cost him six games earlier this month.

Duda, 29, left Friday night's game against the Rockies when his back "locked up" on him, in his words. A day later, the Mets disabled him, clearing roster space to promote left-handed reliever Dario Alvarez from Triple-A Las Vegas.

"I'm anticipating it's going to be 15 days, so that's what I'm looking forward to," Duda said. "Obviously, it's disappointing to be on the DL, but if there's a good time, I guess now is the best time."

Duda plans to fly to California next week for a consultation with Dr. Robert Watkins, the same specialist who choreographed David Wright's rehab from spinal stenosis. But Duda and the Mets are convinced that his injury, unlike Wright's, is muscular in nature.

"It's just one of those things, it happens," Duda said. "I feel extremely disappointed with where it's at right now, but I'll go on the DL and come back healthy as soon as possible."

Duda is in the midst of another strong season, batting .247 with 21 home runs in 113 games. With their primary first baseman sidelined, the Mets will mix and match Daniel Murphy, Michael Cuddyer and Kelly Johnson at the position; Cuddyer started there Saturday night against a left-handed pitcher.

A minor side benefit of Duda's injury was that it allowed the Mets to clear roster space for Alvarez without having to option rookie outfielder Michael Conforto, who homered Friday, to the Minors. Alvarez, who appeared in four big league games last season, gives the Mets an extra arm after leaning on their bullpen for 5 1/3 innings in Friday's 14-9 victory.

The Mets also understand that Duda's absence is less critical with Yoenis Cespedes, Johnson and Juan Uribe in the fold; since the latter two players debuted on July 25, the Mets have led the league in runs per game, home runs and slugging percentage.

But Duda has ranked among the Mets' top run-producers all season, leading the club with 56 RBIs.

"He's a big piece," manager Terry Collins said. "When he walked up [Friday] night and said, 'Hey, my back tightened up on me again,' certainly we didn't need to hear it. We've got the right guys. We're playing pretty good, and he's a big piece of our lineup. A huge piece. To miss him for the next two weeks, I just hope when he gets back that he's 100 percent healthy and ready and can finish it off, because he's a big bat in our lineup. He's dangerous."

Anthony DiComo is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo and Facebook, and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.