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Thursday, June 9, 2011
Collins: Bay to sit two games

By Adam Rubin


Jim McIsaac/Getty Images
Terry Collins plans to sit 0-for-his-last-23 Jason Bay on Thursday and Friday.
Jason Bay, who is in the midst of an 0-for-23 slump, will sit for at least two games while trying to regroup, manager Terry Collins said.

Collins insisted Bay will not lose his starting job, and there was no benefit in asking Bay to go to the minors. Jason Pridie is filling in at the position for Thursday’s series finale against the Milwaukee Brewers.

“It’s not like a month layoff or anything,” Bay said. “It’s a couple of days. We’ll see if that works.”

As for what can be accomplished in a two-day layoff, Bay added: “The biggest thing, I think, is the mental break a little bit. But also, with the way I’m going right now, I mean I’m not really helping a lot out there. It gets some other guys in there.”

A team official said Bay is trying to get back to the mechanics from his early Pittsburgh days, but he has drifted so far, it's not currently comfortable implementing it in games. A scout said Bay does not seem to be picking up the baseball out of pitchers' hands, although it's not believed to be vision-related.

During a meeting with Bay after Wednesday’s loss to the Brewers, Collins told Bay plenty of stars -- including David Ortiz, Carlos Delgado and Tim Salmon -- have experienced tough starts to seasons in their careers and recovered to post productive years overall.

“If you look at David Ortiz three or four years ago in Boston, they were ready to release the guy at the halfway point,” Collins said. “He was hitting .195 or .185. He hit 20 home runs in the second half. I wanted Jason to understand that, for me, it’s about grinding through it. It’s hard. It’s a very difficult thing to do. He’s proud. He’s a pro. He’s a star player. When you’re struggling, it’s difficult. So I just said, ‘Hey, I’m out of answers here. What’s the thought process?’ We just kind of came up with, ‘Hey, let’s just take a blow for a couple of days and work on some things,’ and we’ll get him back in there. Because I don’t think there’s any other way to get through it except playing him.”

Bay, 32, had just been given back-to-back days off to try to regroup at the beginning of the week. He sat Sunday’s home stand finale against the Atlanta Braves, then the team had an off-day.

After missing the second half of last season dealing with the effects of a concussion, Bay opened this season on the disabled list with a rib-cage strain. He made his season debut April 21.

Bay is in the second season of a four-year, $66 million deal with the Mets that includes a vesting option for 2014. He is hitting only .244 with eight homers and 57 RBIs in 134 games since signing the contract. He had 36 homers in 2009 with Boston before becoming a free agent.

Bay’s 0-for-23 drought is a career high, and the longest since Lucas Duda went hitless in 23 at-bats last September, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

Asked what he would work on with hitting coach Dave Hudgens until he returns to the lineup, Bay said: “I don’t know. We’re just going to go in the cage and just keep grinding, working on the same things that we’ve been doing.”

Collins said it is simpler to work in a batting cage without the pressure of games, since it is hard to face major league-caliber pitching in the midst of changing things. Still, the manager wondered if Bay has been tinkering too much.

“One of the things that I thought -- and Dave Hudgens does a great job, make no mistake about it -- but you can get over-coached,” Collins said. “I’m saying something to him. Dave is saying something to him. Two or three of the guys in the clubhouse are talking to him. He might be talking to somebody else. I don’t know. But I think you can get over-coached to where there’s too much information. That could be an issue.”