NEW YORK -- Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson presented the Rick Rescorla National Award for Resilience to the Mets on Thursday, recognizing their contributions to the community in Hurricane Sandy's aftermath.
"Resilience is part of the fabric of our nation," said Johnson, who also presented awards to Walgreens stores and Monsignor John Brown of St. Francis de Sales for their Sandy relief work. "One of the most enduring examples of resilience is New York City."
In the months after Sandy hit the New York metropolitan area, the Mets worked with the city's Office of Emergency Management to receive, stage and distribute resources at Citi Field. The team also supported first responders' efforts by providing housing for up to 600 workers a night, and distributed over 1,500 meals per day during the peak recovery period following the storm.
"It was quite the scene to see everything that was going on in our parking lot -- how much we had here, the help we had from OEM, from the police department, the fire department, and certainly all the staff that worked on this," said chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon, who accepted the award on behalf of the Mets. "It was a big effort."
Duda earns spot as everyday first baseman
NEW YORK -- No more sharing time, no more mixing and matching. Starting Friday, Lucas Duda will be the Mets' starting first baseman.
A source confirmed Thursday afternoon that Duda will receive an extended run of starts at first, after sitting out two of the Mets' first three games. Manager Terry Collins said in his postgame press conference Thursday that he planned to name one of his two left-handed first basemen the dedicated starter, but declined to name which one.
"We've got to see one of these guys play, and if he doesn't get the job done then we'll shift gears," Collins said. "But we've got to give some ample at-bats to have a better idea."
Those at-bats will go to Duda, despite the fact that Ike Davis owns a superior big league track record (32 homers in 2012) and larger salary ($3.5 million), and outperformed Duda in a small spring sample.
Duda is 0-for-6 this season with three strikeouts and a walk, compared to 1-for-3 with zero whiffs and one walk for Davis. Duda may be coming off a better season than Davis, though everything is relative; both players were demoted to Triple-A Las Vegas during the summer.
The Mets are scheduled to face right-handed starters in each of their next six games against the Reds and Braves, giving Duda an uninterrupted run of at-bats. Despite the new arrangement, it is likely that Josh Satin will continue to see regular playing time against left-handed starters. But the Mets won't see one until next weekend in Anaheim, when they can put multiple first basemen in the lineup thanks to the designated hitter rule.
Murphy returns to Mets after paternity leave
NEW YORK -- Daniel Murphy returned from paternity leave Thursday against the Nationals, amidst continued support from a Mets community that happily excused his absence.
"I got a couple of text messages about it, so I'm not going to sit here and lie and say I didn't hear about it," Murphy said of the criticism he received on local radio shows. "But that's the awesome part about being blessed, about being a parent, is you get that choice. My wife and I discussed it, and we felt the best thing for our family was for me to try to stay for an extra day -- that being Wednesday -- due to the fact that she can't travel for two weeks."
Murphy missed two games to be with his wife as she gave birth to the couple's first child, son Noah -- named after the biblical figure, Murphy clarified with a laugh, not the Mets prospect. Manager Terry Collins also laughed when first asked about the criticism of his second baseman earlier this week.
"If you're accusing Dan Murphy of not wanting to play, this guy played 161 games last year, wore himself out, played through all sorts of discomfort," Collins said. "The man had his first child. He's allowed to be there. The rules state that he can be there, so he went.
"When you start attacking Dan Murphy's credibility, you need to look in the mirror a bit. You're attacking a guy's integrity, and Dan Murphy is one of the best baseball players in that locker room. He is an old-school player. It's his first child. When it happens, we made arrangements that by all means … you go."
Mets place C. Young on DL with strained right quad
NEW YORK -- One day after outfielder Chris Young lasted just one inning in his Mets debut, the team placed Young on the 15-day disabled list with a strained right quad. Young is eligible to return April 18 against the Braves, and the Mets expect him back at that time.
"I think it's only going to be 15 days," manager Terry Collins said. "I don't think it's anything severe. I do believe that he caught it in time -- he just said it grabbed on him, he could jog off the field, he didn't have to come out immediately -- so I don't think it's going to be any longer than that."
For the Mets, replacing Young on the roster was as simple as activating second baseman Daniel Murphy from paternity leave. The team plans to keep infielder Wilmer Flores, who was originally recalled from Triple-A Las Vegas to sub for Murphy, on the 25-man roster until Sunday. New York will activate Jon Niese at that time, likely optioning Flores back to Las Vegas and keeping outfielder Andrew Brown on the active roster.
Young, meanwhile, will work to rehab an injury that he thought was behind him after he sat out Opening Day. Calling his situation "a bad dream," Young said he felt fine warming up prior to Wednesday's game, but tweaked his quad chasing down an Adam LaRoche foul ball.
"It's one thing to warm up and stay warm and say, 'Oh jeez, I feel good,'" Collins said of Young, who signed with the Mets on a $7.25 million deal this winter. "It's another thing to warm up and go stand in the outfield for five or six minutes without running when it's 45 degrees out, and then all of the sudden have to explode. I think that's what happened [Wednesday]. We'll get him rest and get him some treatment, but I think he'll be back in a normal amount of time."
• Closer Bobby Parnell spoke Thursday for the first time since the Mets shut him down with a partially-torn MCL in his right elbow. Parnell, who is attempting to avoid surgery by rehabbing the ligament, said he never felt anything more than muscle tightness before Tuesday's MRI revealed the tear.