The lineup has suggested otherwise, but Terry Collins said read his lips: Jason Bay is his regular left fielder.
New York Mets
“Obviously he’s the left fielder here,” Collins said Wednesday, after reinserting Bay in left field and in the No. 6 slot in the lineup. “Hands down. There should be no discussion about that. He’s going to play the majority of the time.”
Collins did not start Bay on Thursday in Milwaukee and on Friday in Pittsburgh, ostensibly so Bay could regroup in the batting cage without the burden of games. Then Collins sat Bay for Tuesday’s series opener in Atlanta, citing Willie Harris’ career success against Jair Jurrjens.
Asked if matchup numbers will be the determining factor going forward, Collins said: “Just in certain cases. I’m trying to get this guy going. I truly believe you’ve got to fight through it. I truly believe you’ve got to battle through all these things.”
So when might Bay sit? Collins said when there’s a “big discrepancy” between his numbers and a reserve outfielder’s numbers against a certain pitcher, or if someone such as Harris just has gone too long without playing.
Incidentally, Collins said there’s actually a chance Bay could find himself in center field on Thursday against Braves left-hander Mike Minor. Collins wants to get righty-hitting Scott Hairston his first start since May 18. The likely plan is to sit the switch-hitting Angel Pagan, who is hitting only .139 against southpaws this season anyway. But Collins indicated he was debating whether Hairston or Bay would be best-suited for center field.
Bay has started 37 career games in center field, but none since 2005 with Pittsburgh. Hairston has started 114 major league games at the position.