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Streaky Bay in deep freeze

Jerry Manuel's patience is getting thin when it comes to Jason Bay, who is killing the Mets in the middle of the lineup. Bay's homerless drought has reached 108 plate appearances, over 26 games, dating back to last season, and it is the longest of his career. But Bay's problems are more extensive than simply a power outage, and for a streaky player, the Mets really, really need him to heat up soon. Here's an excerpt from my column today on Bay:

The Mets could live without the long ball if Bay could dent a few more walls. His .315 slugging percentage is below that of Rod Barajas (.408) and Bay is batting .188 with runners in scoring position, leaving him with fewer RBIs (3) than Luis Castillo (five).

Even Jerry Manuel, who is careful not to poke his All-Stars, shrugged Wednesday when asked about the problems that Bay and David Wright are having at the plate. The manager was more forgiving with Wright because of their track record together. As for Bay, Manuel gave off sort of a helpless vibe before last night's game.

"I haven't figured that one out yet," Manuel said.

Manuel did what he could Sunday by sitting Bay after his 0-for-7, four-strikeout performance in Saturday's 20-inning game. If ever there was a need for a personal day, that was the time.

With the streaky Bay, there doesn't seem to be any shortcuts, but Manuel may need to get imaginative with the lineup. He'll stay pretty much the same for Thursday's game against Cubs lefthander Tom Gorzelany and then consider changes going forward, especially for Bay.

"I got to find a way to [have a runner on] first base where he gets that fastball," Manuel said. "I might have to bat him second. I got to find a way where he can at least get a shot at his pitch while he's struggling to get him going." 



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