Terry Collins sat Jason Bay for a day on Sunday as a mental health break. He has moved Bay from the cleanup slot to sixth in the order. But, Collins said Wednesday afternoon, the manager has no plans to diminish Bay's regular playing time in left field going forward, despite Bay being in an 0-for-20 rut.
Collins acknowledged his approach may have been different as manager of the Angels or Astros in the 1990s, before he mellowed.
New York Mets
"One of the personality changes I think I made is to have some patience," Collins said.
Collins said the only parallel he can make is with Tim Salmon while he managed the Angels. Collins has shared the story with Bay to try to maintain the left fielder's confidence.
Salmon was hitting only .154 two weeks into the 1997 season, Collins' first season managing the Angels, and ultimately finished the year batting .296 with 33 homers and 129 RBIs.
Of course, Bay's struggles have lasted far longer -- arguably since he signed a four-year, $66 million deal with the Mets during the 2009-10 offseason. In 485 at-bats as a Met, Bay is hitting .245 with eight homers and 57 RBIs. This season he has only 10 RBIs -- fewer than Jason Pridie (12).
Still, Collins maintains he has faith because he watches Bay's hand speed during batting practice, and figures that should translate into games eventually.
There are certainly alternatives. Lucas Duda, since missing three weeks with a back injury at Triple-A Buffalo, is hitting .410 with six homers and 13 RBIs in 12 games.
Bay, by the way, ultimately may have a five-year, $80 million deal with the Mets -- not a four-year pact. He has a vesting option for 2014 that kicks in if he has 600 plate appearances in 2013, or 500 apiece in 2012 and '13.