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Jason Bay will get the start Thursday vs. Nats

Jason Bay stands during batting practice before the

Jason Bay stands during batting practice before the Mets game with the Washington Nationals. (June 6, 2012) Credit: AP

WASHINGTON -- Jason Bay said his fractured rib had healed well enough for him to play last week, but the doctors advised him to wait. If he had his way, there's a chance he could have been in leftfield for Johan Santana's no-hitter last Friday.

Would Bay have been able to make the same milestone-saving catch that Mike Baxter did?

"I hope so," said Bay, who was activated from the 15-day disabled list before Wednesday night's game at Nationals Park. "I probably would have suffered the same fate though . . . He definitely paid the price, but I'm sure he wouldn't change a thing."

Bay was rehabbing in Port St. Lucie and did not witness Santana throw the first no-hitter in Mets history.

"I got back to my hotel room and they flashed it on ESPN that Johan had a no-hitter through seven," Bay said. "I went down to the restaurant, they said they couldn't get it. I was trying to Gamecast it on my iPad. It was about 10 minutes behind everybody else. The TV said he threw a no-hitter and I think I had it at about two outs in the eighth. It wasn't the most exciting way to do it."

Bay was not in the starting lineup Wednesday night and has not played since fracturing his rib diving for a ball on April 23. He flew in from Florida and arrived shortly before batting practice.

"He had a long day today," manager Terry Collins said. "He was sick a couple of days ago. I just wanted to let him catch his breath."

Kirk Nieuwenhuis started in left. Collins said Bay would start Thursday. To make room on the roster, the Mets designated Josh Satin for assignment.

Collins did not say whether a platoon between Nieuwenhuis and Bay is forthcoming, though that won't become an issue until next Friday. The Mets next play at the Yankees and at Tampa Bay, so they will be able to use the designated hitter.

Collins said he does not envision any future platoon to affect the playing time of Ike Davis at first base. Lucas Duda has been fielding grounders at first, but Collins said that is in preparation for potential late-game double switches.

Bay, who is in the third season of a four-year, $66-million contract, hit .240 with three home runs in 15 games before the injury. He went 2-for-9 with one RBI, one steal and four strikeouts in three rehab games at Class A St. Lucie.

Bay hit 36 home runs with the Red Sox in 2009, his final season before signing with the Mets. In three seasons he has just 10 home runs at Citi Field.

Said Collins: "When he gets back and he starts to warm up and starts to see how the balls are flying in our park when it's warm and the difference all the alterations we've made in the ballpark have made for our offense, I think he'll be fine."

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