NEW YORK -- Though Rafael Montero's strong debut Thursday night with Triple-A Las Vegas renewed calls for his promotion, Mets manager Terry Collins reiterated his boss' recent assertion that a big league debut won't happen anytime soon.
"He pitched a very good game last night," Collins said. "You're going to ask a kid to come to the big leagues, and all of the sudden pitch out of the bullpen when he hasn't done it? That's why one of the things that's going to happen is those guys are going to pitch out of the 'pen sometime -- [Jacob] deGrom, Montero. But when you bring this guy up and slide him into a role he's extremely uncomfortable with, if he doesn't throw strikes, what's your next option?"
One of the Mets' top overall prospects, Montero did not walk a batter over six shutout innings in his season debut against Fresno. But he has served almost exclusively as a starter since signing as an international free agent in 2011, prompting the organization's caution. The Mets want to see him in a relief capacity before using him there in the big leagues, and tentatively plan to do so this month at Las Vegas.
General manager Sandy Alderson previously indicated that Montero will not debut for the Mets before May.
Duda gets nod at first base through weekend
NEW YORK -- Lucas Duda is officially the Mets' starting first baseman in an experiment that will last … at least until this weekend.
Manager Terry Collins assumed a softer tone when discussing his first-base situation Friday, saying that while Duda is the starter, both Ike Davis and Josh Satin will continue to play. Davis, for example, will start one of the Mets' three games this weekend against the Reds, instead of Duda receiving an uninterrupted run at the position. Satin will still start every so often against lefties.
Duda immediately helped his cause in the bottom of the fourth inning Friday night against the Reds, crushing a towering two-run home run to center field to give the Mets a 2-1 lead -- and then again in the bottom of the sixth with another a two-run home run, this one to right field, to give the Mets a 4-1 lead.
The goal is to keep all three first basemen on the Mets' roster sharp, all while awarding the lion's share of at-bats to Duda. But nothing is "etched in stone," Collins said, and "[Davis] may be the first baseman next week."
"I just didn't think it was fair to anybody coming to the ballpark every day not knowing what their role is," Collins said. "We want to see if Lucas Duda can be the first baseman. If he doesn't do it or we think he maybe doesn't play it the way we want it played, then he becomes a guy that can perhaps go to other positions. So we'll just see how it works out."
Yet a day after stating his intention to give one of his first basemen a lengthy opportunity to sink or swim, Collins was noncommittal in nearly every aspect of the situation. He would not -- or could not -- say how long this will last, how frequently Davis and Satin will play over Duda or what a successful run for Duda might even look like. All Collins committed to was giving Duda more playing time than his teammates -- something that had already happened over the first three games of the season.
"I'm sure there will be more adjusting as the season goes on," Davis said. "I'm not going to get too many at-bats, but eventually something will happen and I'll get a chance to play."
Collins also spent much of Friday's pregame talking about what might happen if Duda does not succeed in his new role. Even Duda, who entered the night 0-for-6 on the season, conceded that the situation could quickly devolve back into a time-share.
"Definitely I'm excited to play," Duda said. "This doesn't mean it's my job. I'll just go out there every day and see what happens."