Jay returns to game action after offseason surgery

Cards' center fielder played in simulated games vs. Wainwright and Lynn earlier in week

Jay returns to game action after offseason surgery

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Jon Jay made his first Grapefruit League appearance for the Cardinals on Friday and went 1-for-3 with a clean single in his final at-bat.

After the center fielder underwent offseason surgery on his left wrist, the Cardinals have been holding him back because he didn't start swinging until later in the winter. Jay said he felt fine in the 5-4 loss to the Mets at Tradition Field.

"I said the whole goal was to be ready for April 5," he said. "It felt good to get out there, I felt fine. I'm going to continue to get my timing, continue to work to get in shape. I felt good playing five innings."

Jay had prepped for his debut by facing Adam Wainwright and Lance Lynn in simulated games earlier in the week.

"Those are two of the best guys out there, and it felt good to go out against a proven pitcher like Bartolo [Colon] today," he said. "I felt good, but I didn't want to push it too much. I feel like we've got a little time window there. I feel I have enough time to get ready."

Jay has spent a lot of his time coaching the team's young outfielders.

"I told my wife the other day that I felt like I've been a coach for three weeks," he said. "I'm getting there early and getting all my stuff done by 11 o'clock. Then it was almost like I became a coach after that. It's something I enjoy doing. It keeps my mind fresh. All the younger guys want to get better and it's kind of cool. [I'm] just trying to do my part."

Paul Hagen is a reporter for MLB.com This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.