Duda activated, hopes to make playoff roster

Mets first baseman will be used primarily as pinch-hitter down the stretch

Duda activated, hopes to make playoff roster

NEW YORK -- Mets first baseman Lucas Duda returned sooner than expected from the effects of a stress fracture in his lower back that has kept him on the sidelines since May 20. It was anticipated he might be out for the season.

Duda was activated from the disabled list before Saturday night's game against the Twins at Citi Field and is expected to be used in a pinch-hitting role in the final 15 games of the regular season as he's slowly re-integrated. Jonathon Niese was transferred to the 60-day DL.

Duda's hope is to be ready to make the Mets' 25-man roster for a possible Wild Card Game on Oct. 5 if the Mets are able to secure one of the National League's two Wild Card spots.

They went into Saturday night's game with a two-game advantage over the Cardinals for the second spot and trailed the Giants by just one game for the top spot.

"That's the goal," Duda said. "Whatever is best for the team is best for the team at that point. I don't make the decisions. We'll just see what happens."

Suffice to say that Duda is simply happy to be back in uniform after a harrowing season of injury and recovery, which included one significant setback in early August.

Duda said the injury didn't happen on any specific play, but was a matter of overall wear and tear. Doctors have cleared him for all baseball activities, and in the weeks prior to Saturday, he had been taking batting practice and fielding ground balls.

"Essentially, it's just like a broken bone," Duda said. "It's like a broken finger or whatever it is. The healing process fluctuates. Personally, for me it took a little bit longer. The doctor told me that it would be three or four months. I fit that category."

Over time, Duda has been one of the Mets' most reliable power hitters. He was batting .231 with seven home runs in 39 games this season prior to landing on the disabled list. He had homered 57 times over the previous two seasons.

Inclusive of Duda, the Mets have sustained injuries all over the place. They lost third baseman David Wright to a neck injury for the season and recently second baseman Neil Walker to back surgery. Shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera and left fielder Yoenis Cespedes have also spent sustained periods on the DL. The Mets have had to go without starters Steven Matz, Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler and Jacob deGrom for long periods.

Despite all this, the Mets are still in a good position to defend last season's NL pennant.

"I think it's tremendous," said Duda. "It tells you the story about how much depth we have in our system from pitching to position players. We're very much in this thing, so it's a great time to be a Met or a Mets fan. I'm just elated to be here."

Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Boomskie on Baseball. Follow @boomskie on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.