NEW YORK >> Mets first baseman Lucas Duda likely will not play again this season because of a recurrence of back pain.

Duda has been sidelined since May 20 because of a stress fracture in his lower back, an injury originally projected to keep him out of the lineup for four-to-six weeks.

Duda had been taking ground balls and hitting off a tee at the team's spring training complex in Port St. Lucie, Florida, when he felt the renewed pain late last week. He traveled to Marina del Rey, California, where he was examined Tuesday by Dr. Robert Watkins.

"He just had a flare-up of a little bit of back pain, and the doctor said just back him off," general manager Sandy Alderson said Wednesday. "I'm sure it was caused by the workouts. There wasn't any indication specifically what it was."

Asked whether Duda could possibly return in October if the Mets reach the postseason, Alderson said: "It doesn't look good." Alderson said Duda should heal with rest and be ready for spring training.

Duda hit .231 with seven homers and 19 RBIs in 39 games before going on the disabled list. The 30-year-old has a $6,725,000 salary this year and is eligible for free agency after the 2017 season.

He had a career-high 30 homers in 2014, then had 27 homers, 73 RBIs and a .244 batting average last year as the Mets won their first NL pennant since 2000.

James Loney, acquired from San Diego on May 28, has taken over as the Mets' first baseman. He entered Wednesday night's game against the Yankees with a .284 average, six homers and 21 RBIs.


New York also said right-hander Zack Wheeler will pitch Saturday for Class A St. Lucie of the Florida State League in his first game since Tommy John surgery on March 25 last year.

Yoenis Cespedes was in the Mets' lineup as the designated hitter, his first start since aggravating a right quadriceps injury on Saturday, Mets manager Terry Collins expects Cespedes will be ready to return to the outfield next Tuesday, when the Mets open a series at home against Arizona.

Cespedes had a run-scoring infield single when he pinch hit Tuesday in a 7-1 win over the Yankees at Citi Field. Retired major leaguer Kevin Millar tweeted a photo of himself with Cespedes after a round of golf Wednesday, which did not bother Collins.

"Was he running on the course or was he walking? Did he ride a cart or was he jogging?" Collins said. "No, I don't have any problem."