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Thursday, September 1, 2011
Bay says center OK if asked

By Adam Rubin

The likelihood is the Mets do not place Jason Bay in center field next season, flanked by Daniel Murphy and Lucas Duda. After all, that is not exactly an outfield conducive to spacious Citi Field. But Bay said he would certainly be open to that idea if that is the direction team brass wants to go.

Bay has not regularly played center field since moving to that position, from third base, for the remainder of his college career after his freshman year at Gonzaga.

“I could do it. Absolutely,” said Bay, who had three hits Wednesday, snapping an 0-for-17 drought in the process. “I think I told you guys before: I don’t feel like I’m Willie Mays in left. So I’m definitely not going to be Willie Mays in center. But I think I can definitely be adequate. There’s some smart guys up there (in the front office). They realize I’m not going to be the best center fielder in the league. I guess it’s the tradeoff, if that were to happen.”

Terry Collins said he would not take a look at Bay in center field at all in September. There are too many struggles with Bay at the plate, Wednesday’s output notwithstanding, for Bay to have a new position on his plate now, too.

The possibility even arose because Angel Pagan is making $3.5 million this season and is arbitration eligible. There is concern he could be due for a raise that even approaches $6 million -- and that such a salary would mean Pagan’s pay exceeded what was palatable for the organization. So the Mets likely will look to at least explore trading Pagan early in the offseason, and if unsuccessful will have to consider cutting him loose. (There’s no clear direction, and it’s entirely conceivable Pagan returns.)

Placing Bay in center field, between two range-deficient former infielders in Murphy and Duda, would be a lot to ask just to free up second base for Ruben Tejada or Justin Turner to play.

Even Bay noted: “For the most part, right now, we’ve got a center fielder. There would be a lot of dominoes that would have to go one way or another for that to happen. We’ll cross that bridge if and when we come to it. It’s really the last thing on my mind right now.”

As for Bay’s three-hit night, two were groundballs -- although Bay portrayed it as the counterbalance for getting robbed on recent shots, including Mike Cameron’s diving catch in right-center Tuesday night.

Bay -- who was ruled out in the eighth at the plate, although replays suggested otherwise in his estimation -- spent Wednesday afternoon with hitting coach Dave Hudgens comparing current video of his swing to footage from recent seasons. Bay reiterated what has been said in the past: Constant tinkering has led to a gradual drift from what worked a few years ago to what is now a clearly different stance/swing.

Now he’s trying to revert back.

“More or less trying to mirror or mimic my swing from a couple of years ago,” Bay said. “I had gotten so far away from it, I really didn’t even know how to do it.”