WASHINGTON -- Throughout the past month, the Mets have bemoaned their lack of a second right-handed slugger to complement David Wright in their lineup.
In theory, that slugger showed up Tuesday, when the Mets activated Jason Bay from the disabled list and designated infielder Omar Quintanilla for assignment. Sidelined since June 15 with a concussion, Bay slugged .500 against left-handed pitching as recently as last season. As a result, the Mets plugged him right back into their lineup Tuesday against Nationals lefty Ross Detwiler, playing left field and batting fifth.
"I'm just trying to jump in," Bay said. "Obviously things haven't gone right. I've struggled a little bit. I'm not trying to carry the team. I'm not trying to do that. I'm just trying to pitch in."
Bay landed on the disabled list June 15 with his second concussion in a two-year span, suffered tumbling into Citi Field's left-field wall. Though the Mets initially feared that Bay would miss the rest of the season, he shed his symptoms relatively quickly and began playing in rehab games, going 3-for-10 with four walks for Triple-A Buffalo.
The Mets hope that even if Bay no longer returns to the elite power-hitting levels of his Pittsburgh and Boston days, he can still be a force against left-handed pitching. His track record against lefties is as strong as that of anyone on the team other than Wright; coupled with continued production from Scott Hairston, Bay could go a long way toward solving those woes for the club.
The team's overall success may depend on it, with general manager Sandy Alderson saying Tuesday that he does not consider a right-handed bat a Trade Deadline need.
But to help the Mets, Bay must stay healthy. The 33-year-old outfielder has now suffered three serious injuries over the past two years by diving or leaping near the left-field wall, including two concussions and a fractured rib. Still, Bay said he did not anticipate scaling back his aggression on defense.
"It's kind of hard to back off," Bay said. "Is that tentative? That's something that's probably going to be determined out there. But as of right now, when I was playing in the Minor Leagues, it wasn't in my mind."