- Adam Rubin, ESPNNewYork.com
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PITTSBURGH -- Four weeks after Jason Bay suffered a concussion crashing into the left-field wall at Dodger Stadium, New York Mets manager Jerry Manuel indicated he did not expect Bay to return this season.
"That's the way I see it," Manuel said Friday, before the Mets opened a three-game series at PNC Park, where Bay played the bulk of his major league career for the Pittsburgh Pirates. "I could be way out of line, or way out of bounds. But that's the way I see it."
Manuel's remarks weren't well-received within the organization, so the manager felt compelled to amend his analysis after the Mets' 7-2 win against the Pirates. Manuel suggested Bay has not ruled out playing in 2010, although that appears unlikely.
"He feels he still can play," a team spokesman added. "He's going to make an effort to play."
A team official said Bay cannot go 48 hours without a recurrence of concussion-related symptoms.
Bay, 31, made a highlight-reel catch on a shot to the wall by Dodgers outfielder Jamey Carroll to end the second inning on July 23. Bay appeared to suffer whiplash on the play, but he remained in the game and mostly expressed concern afterward about the left knee he slammed into the chain-link fence. Bay played another five innings in that game before being pulled, although he maintained at the time that he did not ask to be removed, and that it was primarily related to the Mets taking a five-run lead.
Bay then played full games the next two days -- one game a 13-inning affair -- before complaining of headaches on the cross-country flight back to New York.
It marks the third serious concussion issue the Mets have confronted in recent years.
Ryan Church suffered a concussion, which originally was labeled mild by the organization, on May 20, 2008, while trying to break up a game-ending double play in Atlanta. The organization mishandled that situation, including allowing Church to fly with the team to Colorado and appear as a pinch hitter despite his complaints.
The Mets then treated David Wright more conservatively last season. They swiftly placed the All-Star third baseman on the disabled list after he was beaned by a fastball from San Francisco's Matt Cain on Aug. 15, 2009.
After hitting a major league-low 95 homers as a team in 2009 -- with Wright contributing only 10 homers -- the Mets signed Bay to a four-year, $66 million deal last offseason.
If he does not return, Bay will have contributed a .259 average, six homers and 47 RBIs in 348 at-bats over 95 games in his inaugural season as a Met. Bay had averaged 154 games per season since 2005.
Mets officials knew Bay would not duplicate last season's 36 homers with the Boston Red Sox, given Citi Field's spacious dimensions relative to Fenway Park. Still, the Mets internally projected 30 homers this season -- not six.
Having come from a large media market in Boston, Bay figured to be immune to the pressures of arriving in New York as a free agent -- scrutiny that has hampered other big-ticket acquisitions in their first year with the club. It's possible the combination of the large home ballpark, a slow start and the pressures of living up to his first free-agent deal combined to hurt Bay's production.
"That's the strange thing about his particular situation," Manuel said. "I mean, he played good baseball. Don't get me wrong. But we never saw that power and all that his history had indicated -- 39 home runs, or averaging 30 [homers] and 100 [RBIs]. The RBIs would have been something that we would really, really liked to have seen. The home runs, that would have been good, too."
Still, Manuel added: "The one thing about him, he brought the intangible of a fighter. Despite not having everything, you knew he ran hard down the line. He stole bases. He dove for balls. He did all those things that kind of set us to who we were for a period of time. ... He brought a workmanlike mentality to our lineup. It wasn't always successful, but you knew he was going to play hard."
New York Mets manager Jerry Manuel doesn't expect Jason Bay to return this season.