Jason Bay said he resolved during the winter to avoid the constant tinkering of past offseasons in hopes of rediscovering the success he had before signing with the Mets for four years, $66 million a couple offseasons ago. He spent much of the winter just hitting off a "tee-type-contraption" alone in his garage in the Seattle area.
"I'm hitting left-handed now, actually," Bay quipped. "I realized the other day I was actually on the wrong side of the plate."
New York Mets
More seriously, Bay said: "Last offseason I had done some new things trying to work on some things. I came in last year and had this new stance. And it was working. And then all of a sudden end of spring training comes around and that's not working. Now what? I had working all that time. I kind of got back to almost doing a little bit less, if that makes any sense. I put a ton of time in hitting earlier and hitting more and doing those things [in the recent past]. And this offseason I kind of went back to my old routine of waiting until the new year and just easing into it and not working on anything new -- just working on what we did at the end of the season last year, which was starting to work again and really felt like me."
An ESPNNewYork.com study determined nine balls Bay hit over the last two seasons at Citi Field would have been homers had the new dimensions been in place then. Still, Bay was not predicting the dimension changes would have a massive effect. Bay will try to pull the ball more this season, as he did early in his career, rather than try to hit the ball where it's pitched, even if there are some spots on the plate where he is vulnerable.
"I think if everything operated in a vacuum, you could say, 'Hey, here's all the fly balls you hit,' whether it's me or anybody else, 'and this will translate to X amount of more home runs,'" Bay said. "That's easy to say on paper. Not just for me, but for a lot of guys, it's probably just by default doing to help out a little bit. I don't think it's going to make a difference between having a down to an average year to a phenomenal one. I think it's probably going to play fair. It's probably going to help a little bit, hopefully, in a perfect world. But it's not that I'm coming into the season, nor is anyone else, I think, coming in thinking, 'Now that the fences are where they're at, everything is going to change.'"
In two seasons as a Met, Bay has hit only 18 homers in 792 at-bats.
"If I couldn't do it, I feel like I could admit that. But you go out there for batting practice and you do some things sometimes, it's there," Bay said. "Boom. It's there. But it's not there consistently. It's there 10 percent. It's not even close. ... Toward the end of the season it started to show itself. I've just got to find a way to keep it on. ... For everything I've done in my career, I haven't done any of it in New York. And I completely understand that. ... I would like nothing more than to show everybody why I'm here, what I've done in the past, just kind of be me. No question."
Bay said it took his right shoulder, which he injured in late August diving in Philadelphia, a while to recover this offseason.
"You look at any baseball player's shoulder, they probably have something going on in there," he said. "It actually would get better, and then every time I would dive again, it would set me back a little bit and it would take some time to go away. That's actually something that I worked on the offseason with the guy I train with, trying to strengthen the shoulder. It took a couple of months really. It wasn't bad, but it was like something doesn't feel great."
As for team expectations, Bay suggested a lot of the external pessimism is related to other teams in the division improving and the defection of Jose Reyes to the Miami Marlins.
"It has a lot to do with things that we can't control, things around us," Bay said. "I think everybody here knows that we have some work to do. There's no question. There's no one in there that thinks any differently. At the same time, I don't think that we're in a position where it's like, 'Well, everyone has done that and we lost Jose, and no one else is going to step up.' If I can be better than I've been, we get David [Wright] back -- you've heard this all before, I'm sure -- Ike [Davis], Murph, yeah, are we the No. 1 favorite for the division? Probably not. But I think it's not out of the realm of truth is that we can be pretty good."