VIERA, Fla. -- Mets outfielder Jason Bay experienced left rib-cage discomfort during batting practice Tuesday and could begin the season on the disabled list. Bay returned to Port St. Lucie, Fla., late Tuesday morning to be examined by Mets doctors.
"He didn't want to speculate," general manager Sandy Alderson said. "I didn't ask him to speculate. We'll just wait to see what the doctors think."
The Mets had not received an update on Bay's status by late Tuesday afternoon but hoped to have a clearer picture of Bay's health by the evening.
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"We'll just wait to get the doctor's report, and then we'll gather together, and hopefully he's back and it's just something that's minor," manager Terry Collins said. "And if it's not, we'll have to rework what we're going to do to replace him."
Bay missed two games over the weekend due to stiffness in his back, and Monday's game against the Marlins was canceled due to rain. That means that if the Mets decide to place Bay on the disabled list, they could backdate his stay to March 25, making him eligible to return as soon as April 9. But three days still remain before Opening Day, giving Bay time to recover if the injury is not serious.
As of Tuesday afternoon, the Mets remained uncertain whether Bay's rib-cage discomfort was related to the back stiffness he experienced last week.
"We don't think it's related," Alderson said. "Right now, all we know is it's a strain in the left rib cage. I'm not a doctor. Whether it's related to the back or not, we do not know, but I don't think we believe it is at this point."
If Bay begins the season on the disabled list, the Mets would most likely turn to Lucas Duda to replace him. Though Nick Evans could clear waivers as soon as Wednesday, the Mets may be hesitant to place Evans back on the 40-man roster for a temporary fix.
Tinkering with his batting stance for much of the spring, Bay was hitting .333 without a home run in 16 Grapefruit League games. He hit .259 with six home runs and 47 RBIs last season, before missing the final two months with a concussion.
The Mets had been preparing to take the field Tuesday with their Opening Day lineup for the first time this spring. But Bay's injury, which occurred less than two hours before first pitch, nixed those plans.
"It didn't get off to a very good start, that's for sure," Collins said.
Anthony DiComo is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDicomo.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.