PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Jason Bay returned to left field for the New York Mets on Saturday -- 217 days after he last appeared in a game -- and demonstrated that the effects of a concussion are behind him.
"As I got out there and kind of looked around, I was kind of thinking back like, 'Man, it's been a while,'" Bay said.
Still, Bay dismissed starting the Mets' Grapefruit League opener against the Atlanta Braves as any final milestone.
In reality, Bay suggested, he had been symptom-free for so long, the significance of getting in the exhibition game was mostly an afterthought.
"I've felt good for a while," said Bay, who played four innings in the field, along with the other Mets starters. "What was pleasantly surprising was it didn't feel like I was trying to overcome anything. I just kind of felt like I was going out there and getting ready. And I guess that's a good thing."
Bay had suffered the whiplash-induced concussion colliding with the outfield wall at Dodger Stadium. He finished the series, then was shut down for the season after headaches surfaced during the subsequent cross-country flight to New York. He finished the first season of a four-year, $66 million deal with the Mets having hit .259 with six homers and 47 RBIs in 95 games.
Facing Braves right-hander Jair Jurrjens on Saturday, Bay struck out swinging at a 92 mph fastball in the second inning. In his other at-bat, he had a line-drive single against left-hander Eric O'Flaherty.
"I wouldn't say a missile," Bay said of the base hit. "More like a medium line drive."
As for the strikeout, Bay added: "I guess the good part is it didn't really feel any different. Just getting back out, whether you're coming off an injury to end your season, or your first [at-bat], the game is a little quicker than you're used to. You're just trying to catch back up to that. The good news is I felt great and I didn't really have any worries, no apprehensions -- just kind of the same first game of spring that it always was, which is a good thing."
Mets third baseman David Wright, who returned from a concussion during the 2009 season weeks after being beaned by a fastball from San Francisco Giants flamethrower Matt Cain, wasn't surprised Bay downplayed his return.
"It's not like he's testing out a hamstring, or a pitcher is making a start after an arm issue," Wright said. "I think he's had the time to recover. I think he's done everything he can to recover. It would shock me if he even thought about it the least bit."