Jason Bay might play Sunday for St. Lucie

Jason Bay sits in the dugout during a

Jason Bay sits in the dugout during a game against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citi Field. (July 3, 2012) (Credit: Jim McIsaac)

Jason Bay is creeping closer to a return, and when that occurs later this month, Terry Collins said he "will insert him in the lineup." How long Bay stays there, however, could be up in the air.

Bay has been on the disabled list since June 16 with his second concussion in two years. But this one was not as severe as the first, and Collins mapped out a schedule Friday that should have Bay back as soon as the trip to Washington, which begins July 17.

As Collins outlined, Bay is continuing his workouts in Florida -- batting practice, running, defensive drills -- with the possibility of starting rehab games Sunday for Class A St. Lucie.

"Hopefully play two or three games there," Collins said. "Then hopefully head to Buffalo for a few games there and then come back. When he comes back, we will insert him in the lineup and hopefully he'll be ready to get himself back on track. We need his bat in the lineup."

That's quite a bit of hoping on Collins' part. In 22 games, Bay is batting .187 with four home runs, six RBIs and 23 strikeouts in 75 at-bats. During his fractured three seasons in Flushing, Bay is a .246 hitter with a .330 on-base percentage, .385 slugging percentage, 22 homers and 110 RBIs in 240 games.

A productive Bay would go a long way toward shoring up one of the Mets' most glaring weaknesses: facing lefthanded pitching. Entering Friday, they ranked 12th in the NL with a .679 OPS in those situations. Bay is a career .282 hitter against lefties with a .914 OPS and a home run every 19 at-bats.

Extra bases

Andres Torres missed his second straight game Friday with back spasms, but the Mets hope he can avoid the disabled list. Collins said he's "day to day" . . . Zack Wheeler, who along with Wilmer Flores will represent the Mets in Sunday's Futures Game, improved to 8-4 Thursday night, striking out six in 71/3 innings for Double-A Binghamton. He has a 2.62 ERA in 15 starts with 88 strikeouts in 922/3 innings.

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