Jason Bay took his first step towards making his return to the New York Mets on Monday; after an examination by the team doctor, the left fielder was cleared to begin baseball activities. This comes after Bay fractured his rib on April 23rd in the pursuit of a batted ball. His rehab process will begin today at Citi Field, and then he will head down to Port St. Lucie once the weekend hits to continue his road back to recovery.
While he was not permitted to participate in baseball activity, Bay saw himself on the stationary bike and elliptical a little too much, so he’s glad to get back to business and getting himself healthy enough to contribute once again. Before his injury, Bay was enjoying one of his most productive times in a Met uniform, hitting .290 with three home runs to go along with a .613 slugging percentage in his last nine games before he went on the Disabled List.
When talking about Bay making his return to the lineup, Kevin Burkhardt of SNY asked Terry Collins if Jason would be the team’s starting left fielder; after a short hesitation, he told Kevin that he and his coaches would have to talk about that before a decision is made. This is quite a different response from the one Collins gave the last time when Andres Torres was getting ready to make his return to the team. There was no discussion about Torres sitting upon his return; he would be the team’s center fielder, period.
I think it’s different with Jason Bay because outside of those nine productive games that he experienced, he’s done nothing to help get the offense on a roll, and when you see what Kirk Nieuwenhuis is doing in the field and at the plate (.302/.379/.422) it will be hard to take him out permanently, especially when you see how well the team has been performing with him in the lineup. It looks as if there will be a platoon situation out in left field in an effort to keep Captain Kirk around, and rightfully so.
There is still some time before Bay will be deemed healthy enough to return to the Mets because he will now slowly start to ramp up his running, hitting, and fielding drills, but this situation will be the elephant in the room. Collins sees Nieuwenhuis’ value and what he brings to the team, and sees the importance of continuing to keep him in the lineup. Depending on his performance upon his return from injury, we’ll see how long a platoon between these two players will last.