It has been a long time since the expectations were really high for Jason Bay.
When the Mets signed Bay as a free agent, the last real high-profile, high-priced free agent deal the franchise made, they were counting on him to be the player he had been in Boston and if not that, at least the player who had steadily been a force for years for the Pittsburgh Pirates.
But what they got in 2010 for the first installment of the four-year, $66 million contract, was a player who struggled to find his power, hitting only six home runs before his season ended in a collision with the outfield fence at Dodger Stadium in July.
Bay missed the rest of the season after that incident, fighting the effects of a concussion. Those symptoms are gone, but there still are plenty of questions for Bay to answer.
He was still struggling at the plate in spring training, tinkering with his stance and not hitting a home run, when in the final week of camp he first was afflicted by a tightness in his back.
On his first day back, he strained the left intercostal muscle in his ribcage, putting him on the disabled list to start the season.
Bay rehabilitated, remaining behind in Port St. Lucie, Fla., while the Mets struggled through their first 16 games.
On Monday, he met in New York with manager Terry Collins, general manager Sandy Alderson, assistant general manager John Ricco and trainer Ray Ramirez and consulted with team physician Dr. Struan Coleman.
It was decided that he would play two more games in Florida and attempt to join the Mets for Thursday's game at Citi Field against the Houston Astros.
Bay was going to play for one of the Mets higher level minor league teams, but with inclement weather expected in Buffalo and Binghamton, the site of the Mets top two farm teams, it was decided to send him back to Florida.
While it is still uncertain exactly what the Mets will get from Bay they are anxious to see him back in the lineup, giving them a look at what it looks like in its entirety.
"I hope he's ready to play, hope he's ready to hit," Collins said. "He's got 15 at-bats or something in the last five days. Getting him back, getting him in our lineup means a lot.
"It kind of put guys in positions where they can make a contribution now. He told me (Sunday) morning he actually feels great. He is doing everything, diving into bases, running, playing the outfield, feeling better and better each and every day."
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