By Ed Coleman
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The Mets’ outfield situation is still very much up in the air, but if there’s one player who has a field (left) all to himself, it’s Lucas Duda.
Duda is a sleeping giant whom the Mets believe can begin to show his enormous power and potential this season. Last year, Duda received a wakeup call when he was demoted to the minor leagues mid-season before returning for the final stretch.
Manager Terry Collins remembers the day the hulking Californian came back to New York.
Duda is intent on doing that, and has gone to work with hitting instructor Dave Hudgens to alter his approach at the plate. They’ve tried to eliminate the moving parts of Duda’s swing — less movement can lead to more stability, and Duda thinks they’re on the right track.
So what is different in particular from the stance and approach that he used last season?
Duda is a film freak — not necessarily movies, but watching film of his at-bats as well as others’. He and Hudgens have gone over a lot of film — of both Duda himself and other sluggers like Adrian Gonzalez and Joey Votto.
Are there other power hitters that he has tried to emulate?
Even though Duda has enormous pull power, Collins and Hudgens have always urged him to use the whole field, especially the left-center field gap, because that is when he is most locked in.
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The Mets will have an intrasquad game on Friday before opening the exhibition season on Saturday against Washington. Duda will play left field in that game and then DH the next day. Collins wants to get him as many at-bats as possible in the early going to make sure that he’s acclimated to the new approach and that it’s working.
The Mets are hoping that it could be the start of a powerful lefty pairing in their lineup — Duda and Ike Davis going deep.
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What sort of power numbers do you expect from Duda this season? Be heard in the comments!