Lucas Working On Both Sides

Lucas is working through a slow start

Richard Lucas took a significant jump up the organizational ladder when he was assigned the third base job in St. Lucie out of Spring Training. A hot start was followed by a cooling off period, but Lucas is focused on continued improvements on both sides of the ball. Inside Pitch caught up with the young third baseman to discuss the early part of his season.

The New York Mets drafted third baseman Richard Lucas with their fourth round pick in the 2007 Draft. In his first three seasons, Lucas got a taste of every short season level and a brief stint with the Savannah Sand Gnats. In 2010, Lucas earned his first shot at the Florida State League after an eye-opening summer in 2009 split among three levels.

Lucas drew a lot of attention for explosive showing in the Appalachian League where, in 26 games with Kingsport, Lucas hit .357 with four home runs, 21 and a .471 on-base percentage. That performance was sandwiched between a start in the Gulf Coast League and a week with the Brooklyn Cyclones to end the season. But the opportunity begin the year in St. Lucie has excited the third baseman.

"It feels good to be in this spot right now. To have a position on this roster that is mine to work with feels good," said Lucas. "I had an opportunity like this in 2008 with Savannah before I got hurt (knee and foot injuries ended his season after 31 games), but just to know that I'm out there with an opportunity to play a position that will be mine to lose is a good feeling."

"I can just go out there and play and not worry about where I'm going. Now I have to go out there and show that I can keep the job by playing well," Lucas continued.

Despite the job security, Lucas is battling a slow start. He has four home runs and 14 RBI to his ledger so far, but he is hitting just .192 (19-for-99) with 35 strikeouts. He acknowledged his cold streaks and described what he is doing to break out of his current 5-for-34 slump.

"I felt good coming out of Spring Training. Everything went smooth for me but I know I still need to work things at the plate. I'm mostly working on getting started early at the plate. I want to get my hands stated early so I'm not late on pitches, breaking balls, and I want to use the whole field more," Lucas explained.

"I've had a rough couple of the weeks here, but other than that my swing feels good. I feel like I'm going up to the plate with a plan and I'm feeling good about the pitches I'm seeing."

While Lucas works to straighten out what he is doing at the plate, he puts plenty of attention to his defense as well. Lucas entered the season showing average skills on the hot corner and, at least statistically, not much has changed. Ten errors in 27 games has Lucas very much focused on improving his defensive craft.

"I feel like I've been struggling a bit defensively. I haven't been seeing the ball well and I'm not seeing the ball all the way into the glove," he said. "I need to see the ball in and not rush everything. I need to keep my feet moving and make sure I'm completing the whole play cleanly from playing the ball until it's out of my hand."

"I would say defensively is the one area that I'm feeling a little unsatisfied with at this point. I'm confident I'll get it going with the bat, but my defense is something I really want to improve. It's something I've never really struggled with before. I'll feel better when I get that going," he added.

It has been a season of mixed results so far for Lucas, but at 21 years old and at the highest level yet of his career, Lucas remains generally positive and steadfast in keeping things simple, even though his boxscore may read otherwise.

"It's going pretty well right now. It's been a bit shaky, but I'm getting used to everything at this level. I've had my good stretches and other times where it's been a little tough, but I feel good about the way I'm going about it in the field and at the plate. My game will come around the more I work at it," he closed.

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