Monday, July 4, 2011 Updated: July 5, 4:20 PM ET
Bay fought the wall in L.A. ... and won
By Adam Rubin ESPNNewYork.com
LOS ANGELES -- New York Mets left fielder Jason Bay could laugh about it afterward. Deep fly ball to left field. Wall nearing. Impact looming.
Dodger Stadium ... again.
"It's just funny," Bay said after the Mets beat the Dodgers 5-2 on Monday night. "What are the odds?"
Jason Bay returned to the scene where his 2010 season ended ... and lived to laugh about it.
In his return to the stadium where he suffered a season-ending concussion while making a catch at the left-field wall on Jamey Carroll a year ago, Bay similarly was challenged.
Aaron Miles sent a deep shot to left to open the sixth inning off Chris Capuano on Monday night. Bay did not flinch as he pursued the baseball, made the catch, then took a jolt during the impact with the wall.
"I knew it," Bay said. "As the ball was going back, I looked at the fence, I looked at the ball and I was thinking, 'Dang, it's going to be close.' ... And then I'm thinking, 'But I ain't going to chicken out.' I'm not going to pull up and have this thing bounce a foot before the warning track because the fence might be there."
Bay -- who dropped in the RBI single to center field that gave the Mets a two-run cushion two innings later -- had not been required to make a catch like this since the cobwebs, or at least the headaches, from last year's concussion cleared months later.
"It could have happened anywhere, but the fact that it happened here, I think it just adds to the insanity," Bay said.
When the Mets signed Bay to a four-year, $66 million deal, the false advertising was that Bay was a mediocre fielder. The defensive statistical metrics were partly fooled by Bay playing left field at Fenway Park, where the Green Monster afforded him no room to display his full range. Not that fielding is why the Mets signed Bay -- it was supposed to be the power numbers. But he has been solid as a left fielder, if that's a consolation. And perhaps his offense is awakening, however slightly, with the Mets.
Anyway, in his first real test approaching a wall since that game last summer that torpedoed the second half of his inaugural season as a Met, Bay passed with flying colors.
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"I'll tell you what: It tells you what kind of player he is," manager Terry Collins said. "He didn't shy away from it. He didn't do anything except make a great catch. That's why he's the guy he is. 'Hey look, I've got to go catch the baseball. I'm going to make the play no matter what I'm running into.'"
Said Bay: "I got my hands up this time. I mean, I still hit it full force, but I was able to get my hands up and absorb most of the blow."
Bay also benefited from the ball being hit slightly farther away from the foul line than the one a year ago. He hit the portion of the wall that is a panel scoreboard, rather than the chain-link fence in front of the bullpen that's closer to the line.
"It was like a hockey glass," Bay said. "It had a little give to it, a little bit better than the chain-link pole last time."
Bay did get nicked up. But no concussions this time.
"It was a little bit of everything," Bay said. "The hands up. I squished my finger in my glove. Smoked my knee on it, but I wear some pads on my knees anyway, so it absorbed a little bit of it. It was just kind of a systems check."
Humorously, Bay thought of the reporters after he determined he was uninjured.
"Had I been lying there, I don't know if you guys would have been the first thing to pop into my head," he said at his locker postgame. "But after I deemed everything was good to go, once I kind of exhaled a little bit, it was like, 'All right, I guess I could kind of laugh about it a little bit.'"