Jason Bay was sent down to the Mets spring training complex in Port St. Lucie to begin his journey back to the New York lineup, projected to be soon after the All-Star break. Before appearing in rehab games, the Mets have said that Bay will first participate in live batting practice, as well as running and defensive drills. What was music to my ears was their plan for their left fielder beyond his games at Class-A St. Lucie.
Once he takes the field for St. Lucie, the expectation is that Bay will play two or three games down in Florida, then head to Triple-A Buffalo to for a handful of games while playing left field full-time before he is activated off the 7-day concussion-specific disabled list. I’ll have to take LeBron’s words by saying, it’s about damn time!! As you all know, I have been scratching my head for weeks, trying to figure out why Bay wasn’t promoted to Buffalo while rehabbing his fractured rib, when other injured players, such as Ruben Tejada and Josh Thole, all progressed from St. Lucie to Buffalo before getting the call back up to the Majors.
Even though there was no explanation as to why the Mets did that with Bay’s rehab assignment, it’s better late than never. This gives him more of a chance to play in games where the speed it much closer to that of an MLB game, more than it will ever be down in PSL. With all the chatter going on around the Mets clubhouse about how they feel they need a right-handed power bat, what they do with Bay to get him ready to return to the New York lineup becomes increasingly important.
If somehow, Bay can provide some sort of power threat, especially in the late innings, that would allow Sandy Alderson to focus solely on getting what this club needs the most: help for the bullpen. Terry Collins has already stated that once Jason is healthy enough to return, he will be inserted into the starting lineup, just as he did the first time around when he returned from his rib injury.
It is nice to see the front office realize that they made a mistake the first time around with handling Bay’s rehab assignment, and are logical enough to fix it the second time around. He was clearly over-matched going from PSL pitching to facing the Yankees rotation. I’m anticipating this change in his rehab assignment to help Bay get off to a quicker start once he’s activated for the second time from the disabled list compared to his first activation. At least, that’s what I keep telling myself.