Jay may make Grapefruit debut Friday

Jay may make Grapefruit debut Friday

JUPITER, Fla. -- The Cardinals have targeted Friday as a Grapefruit League debut date for outfielder Jon Jay, who showed himself ready for increased game action during a simulated game on Wednesday.

Facing Lance Lynn and a pair of Minor League pitchers, Jay took 13 at-bats. He tallied two singles and a double, stole a base and scored a run during the three-inning affair. Jay did not play in the field, but he has been participating in defensive drills since camp opened, so that is not a concern.

Manager Mike Matheny suggested that Jay will take one additional day before playing in his first official game on Friday, when the Cardinals travel to Port St. Lucie, Fla., to face the Mets at 12:10 p.m. CT on MLB.TV. Jay had been on a delayed hitting program after spending the winter recovering from left wrist surgery.

"Obviously, I've been through a lot this offseason with surgery and rehab," Jay said after Wednesday's simulated game. "It's good to finally get out there and take swings against live pitching. I just kind of did a little bit of everything, getting me ready for a game. I'm feeling good out there, moving along and I'm ready to get out there."

Jay will ease into game play, as most position players do at the start. He'll have two weeks' worth of spring games remaining before determining his readiness for Opening Day. If all goes well, Jay, who signed a two-year extension last month, still projects to open the season as the team's everyday center fielder.

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.