BALTIMORE -- Jason Bay figured his tinkering finally must have resulted in the proper correction. After all, the left fielder homered, had four hits to match a career high, and walked in the other of his five plate appearances during the New York Mets' 11-4 win against the Baltimore Orioles on Sunday that capped a series sweep.
However, midway through Sunday's game, Bay retreated to the clubhouse and checked the video of his at-bats. He could barely detect the change he had incorporated into his swing.
The truth: He could not notice the reduced hand movement that he and hitting coach Howard Johnson had decided to implement for the series finale against the Orioles.
"You know what's funny, though?" Bay said. "I feel like I've changed a lot. I felt a lot different.
"I watched the at-bats on video, and I looked the exact same -- to me, identical. We've talked about, 'Hey, we should try this, try that.' It's not wholesale. It's not stand straight up. It's always going to be that one subtle thing that you wouldn't even notice if you watched it. But today I felt that I was more quiet and more compact. And I came in after a couple of at-bats and looked at the video and I looked the exact same. That's how finicky it is, I guess you can say."
Regardless, Bay had been 0-for-16 before the breakout game. He still has only four home runs this season, but at least he logged his first long ball since going deep twice against the Yankees' CC Sabathia on May 23. Bay's hitting .284 with 25 RBIs on the year.
"Of course we have an off-day, but it's something to build on," Bay said as the Mets prepared to spend a free day in Cleveland on Monday before opening a three-game series against the Indians on Tuesday.
Bay, who signed a four-year, $66 million deal with the Mets during the offseason after slugging 36 homers with the Boston Red Sox in 2009, said he has been subtly fiddling with his hitting mechanics all season. The logic: Doing something is better than not trying anything.
"The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results," Bay said. "You feel like you need to be proactive. Especially with the way things have gone for me, I'm trying everything I can just to create that feel that you're going well. Unfortunately, I haven't been doing that well. But we've been winning. It helps you sleep at night.
"You can't go up there blind," he continued. "You have to go up there with a plan of something. Even if it's a bad plan, you have to have something. Every day we've just been trying something new. 'That doesn't work. That doesn't work.' The results [on Sunday] obviously speak for themselves, but it felt more comfortable."
As for what he was trying to achieve by keeping his hands more still, Bay explained: "You've got to have some movement. You can't be dead still. But I don't need to be rocking all over the place and throwing hands around. It was more kind of, 'Get everything else out of the way and let the hands work.' Whether that was it or not, I don't know. We'll see."