PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. (WFAN/AP) — Jason Bay is just happy to be back on the baseball field.
The Mets left fielder missed the final two months of the season with a concussion suffered when he slammed into the wall at Dodger Stadium in late July.
“I take a lot of pride in getting out there every day good or bad and trying to play a certain way,” Bay said. “That’s the longest, for while anyway, that I’ve been out of commission.
“That was frustrating. Good or bad you still want to play and that’s a big part, I feel, of my game is just getting out there and that was tough.”
Bay was expected to provide a big offensive spark when he signed a four-year, $66 million contract before the 2010 season, but struggled to acclimate to Citi Field.
The three-time All Star hit .259 with just six home runs and 47 RBIs. It was the first time since 2003 — when Bay played just 30 games — that he didn’t hit at least 21 home runs.
“Early on things went well last year, other than the power numbers, but I was doing pretty well ,” Bay said. “All the sudden, I kind of started changing things and trying to do a little too much and pretty soon it was July.”
Mets manager Terry Collins said he thinks Bay, 32, still has the ability to be a 30-home run hitter. Bay said he thinks 30 home runs is a reasonable expectation for himself.
“When you play as many games in our park … I hope he hits 30,” Collins said. “I think he’ll hit close to that.”
While home runs are always good, the key to Bay’s game has been driving in runs. He averaged 101 RBIs from 2004-2009 — including a career-high 119 in 2009, his final season in Boston.
“Even last year, with as down a year as I had, I was still somewhat productive in my limited time in my limited sample set. That’s something for me I need to do. I need to find a way to drive in runs.”
Collins thinks one of the biggest difficulties for Bay was coming back to the National League after a year and a half in Boston.
“You can used to the American League after a few years and understand what’s going to be done and how they’re going to pitch you and you go to a new league where they pitch you different because the lineup’s different,” Collins said. “A National League lineup in a whole different bag.
“I think there’s a lot of differences in the two leagues and I think Jason, after being back in this league, is going to be better prepared for it.”
Bay said he feels no lingering side effects from the concussion and whiplash he suffered last season.
“(I want to ) get back to the player I know I am,” Bay said. “I lost that a little bit last year. I’m not out there to prove anybody right or wrong, more to my myself. Go out there and be consistent and be the guy I’m supposed to be.”
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