Duda takes swings for first time since injury

Mets first baseman hopes to begin rehab assignment in a couple of weeks

Duda takes swings for first time since injury

MIAMI -- Lucas Duda may still be a couple of weeks away from playing in any games, but the Mets' first baseman joined the team in Miami and took swings for the first time during his rehab process Saturday.

Duda, who has been sidelined since May 20 with a lower back stress fracture, said he hopes to go on a rehab assignment in a couple of weeks. He resumed baseball activities Monday in Port St. Lucie, Fla., which included running and playing catch.

"It's a progression. I just started hitting today, so it's gonna take -- I don't really know about a number -- but probably a few more weeks," he said. "The most important thing is that I feel good. We're progressing on the right track, so I'll take it."

Swings are a step up from what Duda had been doing. Twice this week, Duda did what is called tracking. He stood in the batter's box against live pitching but didn't take any cuts. The drill helps his timing and pitch recognition.

Mets manager Terry Collins recalled practicing the drill many times when he spent 10 seasons in the Minors with the Dodgers in the 1970s and 1980s. He said it should help Duda's hitting once he's back with the club.

"If you work at it and put some effort into it, when all of a sudden it's time to hit, you're used to the speed of the ball," Collins said. "I know Lucas. One thing about Lucas is he'll put his work in. He'll be there all day if you let him."

There's still no set date for Duda's return, but late August would make sense if everything else goes well. James Loney has filled in admirably in Duda's absence, hitting .287 with five home runs and 18 RBIs in 43 games.

Patrick Pinak is a reporter for MLB.com based in Miami. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.