Bay feels better, but his return date is unclear

Jason Bay walks back to the dugout after Jason Bay walks back to the dugout after striking out in the seventh inning against the Atlanta Braves. (April 7, 2012) Photo Credit: Jim McIsaac

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Jason Bay has been banged up so much that even his wife can't help but squeeze in a barb, probably figuring a reminder for her husband every now and then isn't such a bad thing.

"My wife made that joke already: 'We have walls in the house, too,' " Bay said Saturday. " 'Don't run into those.' "

Bay spoke publicly for the first time since suffering a concussion June 15 when he crashed headfirst into the leftfield wall while trying to make a diving catch on an inside-the-park home run by Cincinnati's Jay Bruce. The leftfielder, who was placed on the seven-day disabled list June 16, said his health is improving and he's essentially symptom-free as he waits for the results of his tests.

"I'm a lot better than I thought," Bay said. "First few days, I kind of felt a little groggy, [had] a little headache and stuff. But over the last two or three days, I feel astronomically better. I kind of did all my tests and stuff and am waiting to hear back.

"Hopefully, hopefully, in the next couple of days, I can kind of start activities again, kind of go through that progression and within a couple of weeks be fine."

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Bay, however, is hesitant to give a target date for his return, particularly because he's already had an extended stint on the disabled list this season. A week before going down against the Reds, he wrapped up a six-week stay on the DL with a rib fracture suffered when he made a diving catch attempt April 24 against the Marlins.

He wouldn't rule out being back by the All-Star break but wasn't about to commit to it, either. First, he has to be cleared for baseball activities.

"I honestly can't do the timetable thing because I haven't heard back [from doctors] yet," Bay said. "I did all my tests and we are waiting to hear back any minute. I would like to say 'yes' but I'm not going to because I honestly don't really know where we are at. I feel great right now, but the activity part of it, that's what usually tells you where you are at."

Terry Collins thinks the Mets will take the cautious approach with Bay.

"He's still got some discomfort in his shoulders and other things that still are feeling the brunt of the collision with the wall," the manager said. "But the fact his head feels better, the dizziness is going away -- those are great signs. I know our medical team will take this slow and hopefully get him back as soon as we possibly can."

Bay, 33, missed the final two months of the 2010 season with a concussion after crashing into the leftfield wall at Dodger Stadium July 23. But unlike that occasion, when it took a month for his health to vastly improve, Bay said his symptoms already have dissipated.

"I feel 1,000 times better at this point right now than I thought I was going to," he said.

Still, Bay admitted there's a part of him that's worried about the long-term effects of at least two concussions.

"It's not ideal, that's for sure," he said. "I'll take a little solace in the fact there haven't been one or two big ones where you are out and you are completely knocked out. Those ones are real tough to come back from. There is a concern, no question. I'm not going to say there isn't. But at the same time, it's something you try to forget about. You try to keep going, no question.

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"That's something we are just going to have to monitor a lot more."

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