Jay's Grapefruit debut likely to be late next week

Delay should help prepare center fielder for long haul

Jay's Grapefruit debut likely to be late next week

JUPITER, Fla. -- Though Jon Jay continues to put in exhaustive behind-the-scenes work to prepare for the season, manager Mike Matheny said Jay's Grapefruit League debut will likely be pushed back until late next week.

Matheny didn't characterize the change in schedule as a setback, but rather he suggested that keeping his work in a controlled setting is preparing Jay for the long haul.

"I think we make a big deal about how many swings guys take, and he's in [the batting cages] swinging," said Matheny, who had initially anticipated Jay getting into his first game early in the week. "He's getting more volume than anyone else. He's going to be fine. [We] just want to make sure that he feels good when he goes out there, and when he goes, no turning back."

Jay entered spring on a delayed program after rehabbing from offseason surgery on his left wrist. The procedure forced Jay to wait until later than usual to resume swinging, which is why he's just recently increased the amount he takes daily. Jay said he recently began hitting off a pitching machine so he could see pitches at a higher velocity.

He has been taking batting practice on the field with his teammates for a few weeks. Jay has not been limited in his defensive work.

"Usually you take about a month and a half in the offseason, you find your swing, you show up here, and then you're good," Jay said. "I'm kind of at that point where I've had that month and a half, so I'm getting closer to where I want to be. I'm excited about it. I can't wait to get back on the field. I've been watching games, paying attention. I want to get out there soon."

Jay is slated to be the team's Opening Day center fielder as long as he feels fully ready to go. His status for the opener will be determined not by how many Grapefruit League appearances he has, but rather how he looks in the ones he does make.

"I'm just trying to be smart about it," Jay said. "Like we've said, the goal is to be ready April 5, and I'm starting to feel better, like I have been the whole time. I should hopefully be fine."

Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB and like her Facebook page Jenifer Langosch for Cardinals.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.