PHILADELPHIA -- The early optimism regarding Jason Bay's return from the disabled list faded Tuesday when general manager Sandy Alderson said it is "unlikely" that the leftfielder will be back by this weekend.
Bay was placed on the DL with a strained left rib cage Thursday, but with the injury backdated to his last game, he was eligible to come off Saturday. The Mets' early prognosis indicated Bay's strain was not severe and the club was hopeful a week longer in Port St. Lucie would heal the condition.
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But Bay is only playing catch now, and until he is ready to swing a bat, the Mets cannot speculate on a return date. Injuries to the rib-cage area can be especially troublesome and tend to linger without adequate rest.
"It's all about how a guy's feeling from day to day," Alderson said. "The doctors thought he would be ready when his DL expired, but it's hard to predict."
Scott Hairston started in leftfield last night against Cole Hamels, and based on Willie Harris' fast start, manager Terry Collins suggested that he would use Harris over Lucas Duda in the other half of that platoon.
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The back stiffness that cut short Jason Isringhausen's last outing Saturday is not considered a major issue and Alderson said he will return to the mound to resume his two-week throwing program in Port St. Lucie.
"It was probably a little bit of an overreaction on our part," Alderson said, "but I think he's fine. He's still on schedule." Paulino inching closer
The Mets are encouraged by the progress of catcher Ronny Paulino, who was recently diagnosed with symptoms of anemia, according to Alderson.
The GM said Paulino could be activated after his eight-game drug suspension, which is Sunday, but it was more likely he will be placed on the DL.