Mets 3, Nats 1: Duda goes deep

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Lucas Duda belted a tiebreaking solo homer on a 90 mph fastball from Drew Storen in the seventh and the Mets beat the Washington Nationals, 3-1, Saturday at Tradition Field.

“He’s getting himself in a much better hitting position,” Terry Collins said. “You can tell he’s got more confidence when he goes up there. He’s taking tougher pitches. There’s been some real positives.”

Lucas Duda

Lucas Duda

#21 LF
New York Mets

2012 STATS

  • GM121
  • HR15

  • RBI57

  • R43

  • OBP.329

  • AVG.239

Duda has four Grapefruit League homers.

Travis d’Arnaud added an eighth-inning RBI single.

Rafael Montero, borrowed from minor league camp for the start opposite Gio Gonzalez, tossed 4 2/3 scoreless innings.

“I saw much better velocity than I saw early, better command of his breaking balls than I did early,” Collins said. “And, actually, I hope he really continues to work hard with his changeup. He has an outstanding change in the making. That’s going to really get [batters] off the fastball.

“You know, this guy is coming with rave reviews. He may not have the fastball [Zack] Wheeler’s got, but I had some minor league people tell me this winter: Don’t be surprised if he’s in the big leagues before Sept. 1. And I will not be, because I trust my minor league people very much. They have a good feel for it. They said the same thing about [Cory] Mazzoni.”

Game tidbits:

KNEE BEND: Kirk Nieuwenhuis, recovered from a bone bruise on his left knee, appeared in his first Grapefruit League in 20 days. Nieuwenhuis struck out against Storen as a pinch-hitter in the seventh, then remained in the game in center field.

Justin Turner, recovered from a sprained right ankle, started at second base and went 0-for-3.

ON EDGE: Josh Edgin surrendered a 1-0 lead in the seventh after first baseman Zach Lutz’s error on a would-be double play allowed the Nats to load the bases with none out. Edgin struck out Roger Bernadina before surrendering a game-tying sacrifice fly to Francisco Soriano.

After Edgin reloaded the bases with a walk to Justin Bloxom, he escaped further damage by fanning Jerad Head.

NO ZIP: Pedro Feliciano entered for Montero with two out in the fifth and plunked the lefty-hitting Bernadina. Feliciano, without showing his fastball, then coaxed an inning-ending fielder’s choice from righty-hitting Danny Espinosa.

The Mets must reach a decision on Feliciano by Tuesday. Given his fastball velocity has hovered in the 82-83 mph range and the Mets would need to free a 40-man roster spot to add him, it may be simpler and more justifiable to just have Robert Carson on the Opening Day roster as a complement to Edgin.

Carson, who is on the 40-man roster, surrendered a double in a scoreless eighth inning Saturday.

“He knows what he’s doing,” Collins said about Feliciano. “Even though his velocity isn’t where he wants it to be, he takes something off each and every pitch. You get one fastball that’s 84 mph, and you’re going to get another one that’s 82. … He has a feel for what he has to do to get guys out.”