Jason Bay, indeed, is happy to be here.
He made the point repeatedly Tuesday morning at Citi Field as he was officially introduced by the Mets as their new leftfielder.
"This is where I want to be and I'm happy about it," Bay said, not for the first or last time, during his introductory press conference in which he wore his new No. 44 jersey.
Much of the morning's activities, which included hockey hall of famer Rod Gilbert presenting Bay with a No. 44 Rangers jersey with the outfielder's name on the back, involved Bay answering questions about the delay in accepting the Mets offer.
Bay said the delay wasn't nearly what it seemed, saying an agreement had been reached with the Mets before the New Year. The Mets, he said, were on his short list of preferred destinations once he and his agent passed on the Red Sox final offer of four years and $60 million.
Mets GM Omar Minaya said the feeling was mutual for Bay, who agreed to a four-year, $66 million deal that has a vesting option for a fifth year.
"Jason was on our priority list from the get-go," Minaya said.
Bay said the Mets were his most ardent suitors - and many in baseball believe his only serious ones beyond the Red Sox - and never let up, which impressed him.
"Since after the winter meetings there probably wasn't a 48-hour window where we didn't talk," Bay said. "Right from the get-go they were very persistent. They wanted me, I really appreciated that and then basically after the winter meetings, it probably seemed like it took a really long time, but after the winter meetings it probably only took a week to 10 days. We actually had agreed in principal before Christmas. . . it probably looks like it took a lot longer than it did, but in reality it didn't."
But Bay also realized the perception created and he stressed several times Tuesday morning that Queens was where he wanted to be.
"New York, it was the perfect fit for everything," said Bay, who signed with the Mets for four years and $66 million with a vesting option for a fifth year. "I wouldn't have signed the contract if I didn't want to be here or I wasn't happy. And I am. This is one of the biggest days of my life and I'm excited."
Bay, who hit a career-best 36 homers and 119 RBI last season in Boston and has hit 30-plus home runs and recorded 100-plus RBI four of his last five seasons, cited his productive career in Pittsburgh's expansive PNC Park as a reason he won't struggle in the equally vast Citi Field.
"I'm not really concerned," Bay said. "It's something that's there but I'm confident with the type of player I am, ballpark or not, I'm still going to do what I do."
He is not considered a strong fielder, though Bay disputed that to a degree.
"I'm by no means Torii Hunter out there, I know that," Bay said with a smile, referencing the Angels' Gold Glove centerfielder. "But I still think I'm pretty good. So this will be a chance to show everyone what I can do."
The Mets held off on making the signing official until the outfielder passed his physical, which was not considered a sure thing going in. Rumors abound that there were concerns about Bay's shoulders and knees, rumors Bay said were as inaccurate as his reported reluctance to play in New York.
"I never actually hurt my shoulder," Bay said. "That was another thing that . . . just kind of took on a life of its own. I had surgery on it in 2003 and it's been great ever since. Everything was great. It was just another one of those things that kind of took on a life of its own. No concerns. No health concerns whatsoever.">>For breaking news, follow Newsday on Twitter
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