Jason Bay Not Returning to Mets Tuesday

By Matt Musico

So, just when you thought Jason Bay would be back with the Mets to start the series against the Nationals in D.C., you thought wrong. After being the designated hitter with Class-A St. Lucie over the weekend, he was scheduled to play the field yesterday in Florida and then return to the Major League roster today in Washington, but an illness has postponed that from happening.

It seems as if the Mets are looking for just about any excuse to postpone Bay’s return due to the solid play from Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Scott Hairston. When Bay does return, Collins has already stated that Lucas Duda will remain the club’s primary right fielder, and there will be some sort of rotation put into place involving Captain Kirk, Bay, and Andres Torres. Duda is the biggest power

threat in the lineup, so he better not be put into any rotation. Unfortunately for Hairston, he may be the odd man out for any type of regular playing time, mostly getting at-bats as a pinch hitter.

I don’t understand why Jason Bay is doing all of his rehab at the Single-A level. We have unfortunately had the opportunity to see numerous injured Mets go through the rehab process so far in 2012, and none of them have been quite like Bay’s time on the disabled list. For this, let’s use Josh Thole and Ruben Tejada as the examples since they were all in Florida at the same time as Bay working their way back into the lineup.

Thole saw time as a designated hitter in the extended spring games and caught a couple games behind the plate, but before the Mets deemed him ready to return to the Majors, he was sent to Triple-A Buffalo first. Tejada was recently cleared to begin his rehab assignment yesterday, putting him on track for a return on Friday against the Yankees, and he’s doing it in Triple-A as well. Why didn’t New York send Bay up to Double-A or Triple-A to complete his rehab? It just doesn’t make any sense.

I understand that professional baseball is professional baseball, but the competition in Triple-A is a lot closer to what the Majors is like than it is in Single-A. Given his uneven tenure as a Met (and I’m being super nice), doesn’t it make sense to put him in places for his rehab that may be closest to playing MLB-caliber talent? I would really like to know the thought process behind keeping him in the lower levels before he’s activated off the disabled list. Is it to build his confidence before he steps back in the batter’s box in a Major League game? I hope not, because the game will be going a lot faster in the Majors than it is in Single-A and he has the potential to fall back into a major slump. Either way, we’ll see what happens once he’s over his cold and comes off the DL.