Lucas Introduced to Spring Training

Lucas feels good about his off-season workouts

The fourth round draft pick in last June's draft put together a positive rookie season in the Gulf Coast League where he appeared in more games than anyone on the roster. After showing flashes of promise that the Mets believe will turn into greater talent in coming years, he now prepares for his sophomore campaign and his first spring training.

"I think I did pretty good but there was always room for improvement. My body need to get used to playing everyday, and I think this year when I'm more physically ready to play, I'll be able to take my game to another level," reflected Richard Lucas when asked about his rookie season.

The second-year third baseman, who did not turn 19 until the off-season, returned to the Mets' minor league complex a week early to take part in the organization's STEP camp [an early mini-camp] to pick up momentum for the start of official start of Spring Training. As he was drafted out of high school, this is the first spring training for Lucas so he believed it was important for him to arrive early to adjust to the experience.

"Getting down here for the early programs is really helping me prepare for things to come. I've heard players talk about spring training, and now getting down here and experiencing the early camp is going to pay off once everything really gets going. It's got me on the schedule for camp and I think that will help me prepare better for the season," said Lucas.

Lucas' work did not just start when he got to Port St. Lucie. For him, it has been a long winter of pushing himself so he could sharply improve his stamina and physicality for the game. The 52 games he started for the GCL Mets in 2007 took its toll on him as the summer wore on. Though he still put up his share of numbers, he felt his energy drop both while swinging the bat but particularly in the field in the latter half of the season.

"Having the big league workout schedule helped so much," he said. "In high school, all I could do was work with what I knew. But coming here, having coaches follow up with me all winter, I was a lot more focused on what I had to do and keep me in line with what I had to do."

"I really focused on building up my stamina over the winter. Building my strength was important because I got tired at the end of last season. I want to play a full-season and not feel tired at the end of it," he explained.

It is in greater energy that Lucas will capture more consistency, an element to his game he believed he lacked throughout his rookie season. He got off to a hot start and hit .378 through his first nine games, but following that he struggled to gather any momentum above a .250 average. Young and hungry for success, Lucas will not focus on numbers but simply consistency which he believes will translate into positive production.

"I need more consistency than I had last year," said Lucas. "Each year, I'm going to need more and more consistency if I'm going to get to where I want to be as a ball player. Defensively, I want my skills to be consistent with all my fundamentals and mental aspects of the game too."

While the mini-camp experience has been all positives so far for the young third baseman, there will be challenges to confront as he competes to land a spot on the highest level roster possible. Yet, he knows he cannot afford to get down on himself if he has a day, or even a week, of disappointing performances.

"I've got to stay positive no matter what. If I have some ups and downs, that's ok, I just want to get my consistency and keep a good frame of mine. It's my first time through this and I can't let anything get me down. It's going to be challenging to stay consistent, but if I can do it, I'll have the best performance I can," said Lucas.

The Mets hope that attitude will combine with his growing ability into a season which can be used as a launching point for his future.

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