In last week's Who's Hot, I focused on Michael Conforto, Yoenis Cespedes, Travis d'Arnaud, and Gavin Cecchini, who got off to terrific starts this spring. This week, I focused on just one hot hitter, while -- unfortunately -- moving Conforto to the cold side of post...
Lucas Duda: He missed time early in camp after getting anti-inflammatory injections in his hip and knees. Since then, he's got six hits in his first 16 at-bats, including two home runs and four doubles in six games. He's driving the ball really well, but still doesn't look very fluid in the field or when running, which is probably why Jay Bruce is starting at first base on Tuesday.
The Mets see Duda as their everyday, starting first baseman... assuming he's healthy and able to play. And, the problem for Duda is that, at 31 years old with back issues, his presence in the lineup is hardly a given. So, despite how strong he looks hitting the baseball, the Mets are wise to get Bruce experience in games at first base, especially since Wilmer Flores may eventually be needed at shortstop, second base or third base.
Feb 24, 2017; Conforto (30) hits a solo home run at JetBlue Park. Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Michael Conforto: He started the spring batting .421 with two HR during his first eight games. He looked outstanding at the plate in February, again appearing comfortable, smooth and handling left-handed pitching like a veteran. Unfortunately, he has just two hits through his last 15 at-bats, while string out six times.
"He's got to begin working the middle of the field again," Terry Collins said Monday about Conforto. "That's when he is the most dangerous, when he goes the opposite way."
I still have no real sense of how this spring is going to play out for him. I can see a scenario where he he fires it up again and finishes this spring hitting .400 and again crushing the ball. But, despite returning to form, Conforto starts 2017 in Triple-A because Bruce will clearly still be on the roster.
Matthew Cerrone (Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Contact) is lead writer of MetsBlog.com, which he created in 2003. He also hosts the MetsBlog Podcast, which you can subscribe to here. He recently left his position as Executive Editor and Dir. of Digital Content for SNY.TV to help sports brands build their own digital content businesses...