Outfielder Jason Bay arrives at Mets spring camp

BY foxsports • February 23, 2010

Jason Bay arrived at the New York Mets' spring-training camp Tuesday and talked about everything from his health to his defense to his reaction to Canada's loss to the U.S. in Olympic hockey.

``That stung a little bit,'' said Bay, a British Columbia native who became a U.S. citizen last summer but was quick to add, ``I'm still a Canadian, through and through.''

He's also a Met, having signed a four-year, $66 million contract as a free agent in December. And his adjustment to playing for his new team dominated the conversation during a 20-minute, question-and-answer session with the media at Tradition Field.

``I've walked into a new clubhouse before,'' Bay said.

Until now, however, he hasn't played in the demanding New York market. Nor has he played half his games within the cavernous confines of Citi Field.

But Bay, a three-time All-Star and the 2004 National League rookie of the year, said neither the size of the market nor the ballpark was a factor in his decision to sign with the Mets.

``I honestly never gave a ballpark any second thought,'' said Bay, 31, who batted .267 with 36 home runs and 119 RBI for the Boston Red Sox last season. ``Or geography. A lot of people had me pegged as a West Coast guy because I live in Seattle.

``You get a chance, if you're lucky, to be a free agent once or twice in your lifetime. Why are you going to limit yourself to a ballpark or a city. I played in Pittsburgh. It's not PETCO (in San Diego), by any means, but it's definitely not Fenway over in left field, either.

``I'm confident with myself,'' he added. ``At the end of the day, I try to get on base and try to knock in runs. If you knock in 100 runs with 10 home runs, so be it. That's by no means my plan.''

That's not the Mets' plan, either.

The Mets brought Bay to New York to provide power, something that was in short supply as David Wright struggled to hit home runs and the team stumbled through an injury-ravaged, 92-loss season in 2009.

In fact, Mets manager Jerry Manuel said the team probably would've sought a faster, better-defensive left fielder if it could depend on getting more power from other spots in the lineup, particularly first base.

``You might have considered the speed element a little more,'' Manuel said. ``You might not have to go with power in left field.''

As for playing in New York's media spotlight, both Bay and Manuel agreed that Bay's stint in Boston should make the transition easier.

``That's one less unknown going on,'' Bay said.

Bay also defended his defense, saying he might not be Torii Hunter, but he's an above-average outfielder.

``I get to the balls I'm supposed to get to,'' he said. ``I know my limitations, and I know my strengths and I play to them.''

In response to ESPN's Peter Gammons telling a Boston radio audience in December that Bay would rather play in ``Beirut than Queens,'' the Mets' newcomer bristled.

Bay said the remark ``didn't really sit well with me'' because he had never spoken to Gammons.

``If it had been portrayed as that was his opinion, fine by me,'' Bay said. ``But it was portrayed as he had some inside scoop. I didn't think it was fair.''

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