Duda wastes no time bringing pop to Rays

July 29th, 2017

NEW YORK -- provided a bright spot for the Rays on a night when there wasn't a lot to be happy about.

Duda, who was acquired from the Mets on Thursday, started at first base and got his first hit as a member of the Rays in glorious fashion, delivering his 18th home run of the season in Tampa Bay's eventual 6-1 loss to the Yankees on Friday.

Duda said he wanted to "just try and get something up."

"It was a slider, it was a good pitch and I just happened to put a good swing on it," Duda said. "For the most part, [] did an outstanding job of locating the ball down. ... Tip your hat, he did a great job."

Duda's solo home run came with two outs in the seventh and spoiled Tanaka's shutout bid on a night when the right-hander dominated the Rays, striking out 14.

"It's definitely nice to contribute," Duda said. "You know the guy out there today, he was pitching well, he was hitting his spots. Tip your hat, he did a nice job."

When Duda rounded the bases, the former Met was accorded a proper round of boos, of which he said he "didn't really notice."

Rays manager Kevin Cash liked what he saw from Duda.

"He probably had the best at-bats of anybody," Cash said. "His first at-bat when he struck out, he really made them work. Had some good swings. He can hit. You can tell.

"He's got a good approach. He's got a quick bat. He went down and got the ball for the home run. But you know, [I'm] impressed with the presence when he walks up to the plate and how comfortable he is in the box."

The Mets were in Seattle when news came of the trade, so Duda had to travel back across the country to join the Rays for Friday night's game, prompting him to note he was "pretty tired."

"Long day," Duda said. "But overall, I feel great and I'm happy to be here."

He allowed that he feels a sense of relief about knowing his destination.

"Once the trade has gone down and rumors and all those types of things settle down, play baseball, enjoy baseball, enjoy the team," Duda said. "And, you know, win."

Duda noted that he was "excited to be here" with the Rays, but he also sent some love the Mets' way.

"I think you take some time to absorb what has happened, and definitely appreciate where you've been," Duda said. "The Mets have been a first-class organization from top to bottom and they've treated me very well. And for that, I'm very blessed that I was able to spend the amount of time I did with them. That being said, I'm ready to begin a new chapter. I'm ready to be in the hunt."