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September’s New Mets

So far this September, we’ve seen two players make their Mets debuts. Another is likely to make his first appearance today.

Lucas Duda

Lucas Duda became the 892nd Mets player on Sept. 1. He played left field and batted seventh in a game that the Mets lost 4-1 to the Atlanta Braves. Duda went 0-for-3, but made a few nice defensive plays before leaving the game with leg cramps.

Duda got his first major league hit on Sept. 3 in a game that the Mets lost 7-6 to the Chicago Cubs. Duda’s sixth inning double off Randy Wells drove in Angel Pagan to tie the score at 4-4. If the Mets had gone on to win the game, I’m sure Mets fans everywhere would be talking about Duda. Instead, I’m looking ahead to Jenrry Mejia’s start today while others are already thinking about next year.

Duda was the Mets 7th round draft pick in 2007, but he didn’t really do anything to distinguish himself until this season. He had a solid first half in AA Binghamton, but he was on fire once he got promoted to AAA Buffalo. In 70 games for the Bisons, Duda hit 17 home runs, batted .314 with a .389 on-base percentage and a .610 slugging average. The Bisons named him the team’s MVP despite his relatively short time there.

Joaquin Arias

Joaquin Arias became the 893rd Mets player on Sept. 1 when he replaced Duda in left field. Somehow, Jerry Manuel got the idea that Arias had experience as an outfielder. Baseball-Reference tells me that Arias has played second base, shortstop and first base, but no outfield until Wednesday night.

Arias got an infield hit in his first Mets at-bat on Sept. 2 in a 4-2 victory over the Braves. It drove in Chris Carter to give the Mets a 2-0 lead in the first inning of the game. Arias looked rusty at shortstop and was moved to second base in his second start for the Mets on Friday.

The Mets acquired Arias from the Texas Rangers for Jeff Francoeur on Aug. 31. Arias had been designated for assignment when the Rangers promoted former Met Alex Cora earlier in the month. The Rangers received Arias from the Yankees in the trade for Alex Rodriguez – evidently they had a choice between two infield prospects: Arias and Robinson Cano. I guess they made the right choice — for the Yankees.

Mike Nickeas

Mike Nickeas is poised to become the 894th Mets player today if Jerry follows through with his plan to have him catch Mejia. Nickeas came to the Mets in 2006 for minor league outfielder Victor Diaz, a player who the Mets hoped would develop into a mini Manny Ramirez.

Nickeas has the reputation of being a light-hitting, strong defensive catcher. I think it would be funny if he gets two or three hits today.

Baseball card notes: Lucas Duda’s card is from the 2008 Bowman Chrome set. I got it signed in Trenton last year or this year. I remember getting Duda to sign some cards for me after he learned that he was being promoted to AAA this season, but I’m not sure if this was one of them.

Joaquin Arias’ card is an autographed insert from the 2007 Upper Deck Elements set. I purchased it from an eBay dealer for $4 shipped.

Mike Nickeas’ card is from the 2004 Bowman Draft Picks set. I’m not sure when I got it signed. I have a record of writing to him during spring training in 2008, but I never noted getting a response.