Mets 1B Lucas Duda was put on the 15-day disabled list with a stress fracture in his back, the team announced before Monday's game.
He had been hitting .231 with a .297 OBP, seven HR and 19 RBI in 39 games this season. His 64 home runs are the most by any position player on the roster during last two and a half seasons.
Duda is expected to miss at least four to six weeks, according to Terry Collins.
Eric Campbell and Ty Kelly will likely get the bulk of at bats during at least the next few games, which is fine for now. However, it's hardly a long-term answer, especially since Kelly and Campbell help create depth and versatility that is best used off the bench.
The fact is, in 408 career at bats, at 29-years-old and spanning three seasons, Campbell is a .228 hitter. This season, he's hitting .200 with a .549 OPS. Similarly, while Kelly is a nice story, leading all professional baseball in hitting in Triple-A, he's 27-years-old and yet to appear in a big-league game. These guys are nice players, they're good to have on the bench and in case of emergency, but they should not be the every-day first baseman on a team going to a World Series. Also, Kelly and Campbell sounds like a boring, local sports radio show, which is equally unacceptable...
Dominic Smith is the organization's top prospect. Terry Collins explicitly said Monday that Smith is not an option. They did say this about Michael Conforto last summer... and then promoted him. However, Smith is still just 20-years-old and not exactly ripping it up during his first stint in Double-A.
Neil Walker, David Wright and Conforto all told reporters that they're willing to fill in if asked to do so by Terry Collins.
"If that's a spot that they need me to go out there and take ground balls, work on some things, I'm going to do that," Conforto said Monday. "I'll do my best."
However, it would be foolish to put Wright - with lumbar spinal stenosis - at first base, given all the bending, stretching and reaching. It would be equally risky putting Conforto there since he's essentially a rookie and hitting well. Why ruin that? Similarly, Walker hasn't played first base in a long time. And, he, too, is playing well, has a home at second base and - while I'm intrigued by calling up Triple-A 2B Dilson Herrera to play second - that's a whole lot of unknown on the right side of the infield. Lastly, while Kevin Plawecki got some work at first base this past spring, it was hardly enough to warrant putting him there now. Also, with Travis d'Arnaud on the disabled list, Plawecki is most needed behind the plate...
The more realistic, short-term, internal option is Wilmer Flores, who has been on the disabled list since May 12 with a mild left hamstring strain. Last season, Flores hit .263 with a .703 OPS, while playing games at second base and shortstop. In addition to those positions, he has also played third base and first base this season. He is due to begin a minor league rehab assignment Tuesday at Double-A Binghamton. And, given the need at first, my hunch is they'll now rush him back in hopes of having him on the big-league roster this weekend.
I'll explore external options later today...