Struggling Jason Bay still not ducking from walls

Jason Bay dives for a ball hit by Jason Bay dives for a ball hit by Roger Bernadina in the 10th inning of a game against the Nationals. (July 23, 2012) Photo Credit: AP

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PHOENIX -- Jason Bay, who has twice in his Mets career crashed into walls and suffered concussions, crashed knee-first into the wall in foul territory on Friday night to make an outstanding catch at Chase Field.

Bay continues to play without regard for his body, which the Mets admire. He also went into Saturday night continuing to play without showing any signs of breaking out of the offensive funk that has plagued him from the minute he became a Met before the 2010 season.

Nonetheless, manager Terry Collins put Bay into the lineup Saturday night against Diamondbacks righthander Ian Kennedy and plans to do so again Sunday vs. lefthander Joe Saunders and Monday vs. Giants lefty Madison Bumgarner.

"He's gonna be in there," Collins said. "He's the answer for what we're trying to find. And that's a big righthanded bat."

The Mets are waiting for Bay to get back to the form he showed when he hit 36 home runs and drove in 119 runs for the Red Sox in 2009. Bay went into Saturday night batting .170 with five home runs and eight RBIs in 106 at-bats. He has one guaranteed year and an option year left on his $66-million contract.

"I know he's a great player," Collins said. "He's here because he put up great numbers. But when you look at his last year and a half in baseball, so much of it has been spent hurt. I'm not sure he's ever been able to get into a groove. And right now, he's at, what, 107 at-bats? If he came out of spring training and had 107 at-bats, we'd blow it off.

"But because we're in such need of offense right now and he's the offensive hitter we so desperately needed, the expectations are huge. So, as I've tried to explain to him, 'It's about continuing to go up and do your extra work, your early work. Try to get a feel for it. Try to get comfortable in the batter's box. And in a few games we'll see where you are.' "

Bay started against righthander Josh Collmenter in Friday's 11-5 Mets loss. He popped out to the catcher, struck out twice and bounced into a force out that would have been a double play if not for an errant throw by Arizona second baseman Aaron Hill.

After it was over, Bay wore a look of frustration and a wrap on his right knee. The latter was courtesy of the catch he made on a foul ball hit by Jason Kubel in the second inning.

With his history of concussions, the Mets were understandably concerned.

"It's kind of funny," Bay said. "Every time that happens, I get into the dugout and there's 15 different people asking me, 'Are you OK?' I'm just like, 'Yeah, I just hit my knee.' 'Are you sure?' I'm like, 'Yeah, I think so. I just hit my knee.' "

As for his injuries affecting his offense, Bay said: "That might be a little cushion to fall back on. I don't really feel that way, just because I feel like I'm a better player. Granted, it hasn't been a continuous, seamless season to get to this point. And sometimes, I think, you lose sight of that. But at the same time, I don't really feel like that's a crutch. I feel, 'OK, you're a little off here and there.' But I don't feel like that's something I can put in my pocket and say, 'Well, it's only been [107 at-bats].' Even with the chopped up 107 or 108 at-bats, I should be better. And I feel like I am better."

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