After being traded by Mets, Duda homers in debut with Rays
By CHARLES J. GANS
Jul. 29, 2017
NEW YORK (AP) — An exhausting, cross-country trip for Lucas Duda ended with a trot around the bases.
Traded from the New York Mets to Tampa Bay, he joined his new club Friday at Yankee Stadium. Hours later, Duda homered off Masahiro Tanaka to account for the Rays' only run in a 6-1 loss to the Yankees.
"I'm pretty tired after a long day, but overall I feel great," Duda said. "I just want to contribute."
Duda was no stranger to Yankee Stadium, having played 10 games at the ballpark with the Mets in the annual Subway Series. This time, he found himself wearing a different uniform — and in the middle of a playoff chase.
"It's a little different, but the atmosphere is second to none here and I'm excited to be to be back on the field and play some baseball," Duda said in the dugout before the game.
Duda batted cleanup and was at first base against the Yankees, and went 1 for 3. A day earlier, the Mets sent him to Tampa Bay for a minor league pitcher.
He said it's "kind of bittersweet" to leave the Mets — the only team he has played with since his rookie season in 2011 — but he's very excited to find himself back in a playoff race with the Rays.
Duda arrived at Yankee Stadium after what he described as a "whirlwind" 24 hours. He caught a redeye flight from the West Coast where the struggling Mets were playing.
In the seventh inning, he hit his 18th homer overall.
"It was a slider," Duda said. "It was a good pitch and I just happened to be on it."
Rays manager Kevin Cash was impressed with Duda's debut.
"He probably had the best at-bats of anybody," Cash said. "He can hit. He's got a good approach and has a quick bat."
Despite Duda's efforts, the Rays have dropped the first two games of a four-game series with their AL East rivals
The Rays have been busy in the days leading up to Monday's nonwaiver trade deadline.
On Friday, they got reliever Steve Cishek from Seattle for Erasmo Ramirez in a swap of right-handers. On Thursday, Tampa Bay acquired lefty reliever Dan Jennings from the Chicago White Sox.
Recently, the Rays got right-hander Sergio Romo from the Dodgers. Shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria and infielder Trevor Plouffe also arrived in June.
"I'm ready for a new chapter to begin, and I'm ready to be in the hunt," Duda said. "It seems like we have a good shot to maybe take the division and go further.
"It's a shot in the arm playing for a contender which is obviously where you want to be at this time of year," he said.