Jason Bay returns after '10 concussion

Updated: February 26, 2011, 7:53 PM ET
By Adam Rubin | ESPNNewYork.com

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Jason Bay returned to left field for the New York Mets on Saturday -- 217 days after he last appeared in a game -- and demonstrated that the effects of a concussion are behind him.

"As I got out there and kind of looked around, I was kind of thinking back like, 'Man, it's been a while,'" Bay said.

Still, Bay dismissed starting the Mets' Grapefruit League opener against the Atlanta Braves as any final milestone.

In reality, Bay suggested, he had been symptom-free for so long, the significance of getting in the exhibition game was mostly an afterthought.

"I've felt good for a while," said Bay, who played four innings in the field, along with the other Mets starters. "What was pleasantly surprising was it didn't feel like I was trying to overcome anything. I just kind of felt like I was going out there and getting ready. And I guess that's a good thing."

Bay had suffered the whiplash-induced concussion colliding with the outfield wall at Dodger Stadium. He finished the series, then was shut down for the season after headaches surfaced during the subsequent cross-country flight to New York. He finished the first season of a four-year, $66 million deal with the Mets having hit .259 with six homers and 47 RBIs in 95 games.

Facing Braves right-hander Jair Jurrjens on Saturday, Bay struck out swinging at a 92 mph fastball in the second inning. In his other at-bat, he had a line-drive single against left-hander Eric O'Flaherty.

"I wouldn't say a missile," Bay said of the base hit. "More like a medium line drive."

As for the strikeout, Bay added: "I guess the good part is it didn't really feel any different. Just getting back out, whether you're coming off an injury to end your season, or your first [at-bat], the game is a little quicker than you're used to. You're just trying to catch back up to that. The good news is I felt great and I didn't really have any worries, no apprehensions -- just kind of the same first game of spring that it always was, which is a good thing."

Mets third baseman David Wright, who returned from a concussion during the 2009 season weeks after being beaned by a fastball from San Francisco Giants flamethrower Matt Cain, wasn't surprised Bay downplayed his return.

"It's not like he's testing out a hamstring, or a pitcher is making a start after an arm issue," Wright said. "I think he's had the time to recover. I think he's done everything he can to recover. It would shock me if he even thought about it the least bit."

Adam Rubin covers the Mets for ESPNNewYork.com. You can follow him on Twitter.

Adam Rubin has covered the Mets since 2003. He's a graduate of Mepham High School on Long Island and the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. He joined ESPNNewYork after spending 10 years at the New York Daily News.
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