Jason Bay on DL; Lucas Duda on team

Updated: March 31, 2011, 11:56 PM ET
By Adam Rubin | ESPNNewYork.com

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- New York Mets left fielder Jason Bay was placed on the disabled list Thursday and is eligible to be activated April 9.

Lucas Duda will replace Bay on the opening day roster.

"It was devastating at first," Bay said at the Mets' spring training complex, as buses lined up outside the clubhouse to drive his teammates to Miami for Friday's series opener against the Florida Marlins. "You put in all that time in the offseason. You come off a concussion. And then, all of a sudden, you come into spring [training] and the last week or so of spring I felt like I was starting to catch a stride and was getting excited. Then, all of a sudden, to have a derailment, it was a tough day yesterday. The silver lining, I guess, is it's not -- knock on wood -- that bad and there will still be a full season ahead of me."

In other moves, ace Johan Santana, who is not expected back until later this season, also was placed on the DL.

Willie Harris is starting in left field Friday, but Duda is expected to see action soon.

"Obviously you want to come here and try to make the club," Duda said. "I was working as hard as I can. But I didn't think there would be a shot. It's funny how things work out. I'll go out there and do the best I can and see what happens."

Bay flew to New York Wednesday morning to be examined by team doctors. He strained a left rib cage muscle before Tuesday's Grapefruit League game, which would have been his first since lower back stiffness prevented him from playing during the weekend.

"I took one swing and had a little bit of a sting or a stab in my side," Bay said. "I've never had that before. I kind of hoped it was a cramp. With all the side problems that are running rampant in baseball, I kind of had a feeling something was up there. I took another round and it didn't feel any better. That's when we just shut it down."

Team doctors in New York injected anti-inflammatory medication Wednesday, and Bay will be idle for a few days. He will remain in Port St. Lucie for the duration of his rehab.

"They use a machine to kind of look at exactly where they're injecting it," Bay said. "There's a little spot there -- just a little strained muscle in my rib cage. It's nothing big, but it's the rib cage. So when you're kind of moving around, it makes it a little tough."

Bay said one of the first questions doctors asked was how painful his side was when he sneezed, which he has yet to do. He termed the discomfort "very, very mild" when he coughs.

"Not like I cough and I wince over in pain," Bay said. "I can feel something there."

If Bay returns April 9, he will have missed the Mets' first seven games.

Manager Terry Collins already was floating alternative lineups to the media Wednesday, after the Mets completed their Grapefruit League schedule with a 6-3 win against the Florida Marlins.

Collins indicated Angel Pagan, initially the No. 2 hitter, might be dropped into the No. 6 position to "protect some guys." The lineup Thursday had Pagan batting fifth.

Said Collins: "He brings some thump to the plate. I'm thinking about perhaps with Jason being gone maybe putting him in a spot where he can help drive some runs in."

Josh Thole, who was slated to bat eighth, "would be a good guy" to slide into the No. 2 hole, Collins said Wednesday, but he put Thole eighth and Harris second.

"I want to try to balance out the lineup a little bit. ... I don't want to mess with David [Wright in the No. 3 hole] and I don't want to mess with Carlos [Beltran in the cleanup spot on days he plays]," Collins said.

Wright and Beltran are slated to hit third and fourth. Ike Davis bats sixth and Brad Emaus seventh.

Nick Evans, who also would have been an option to replace Bay, cleared waivers and has accepted the team's decision to outright him to Triple-A Buffalo.

Infielder Luis Hernandez also cleared waivers but has 72 hours to decide if he will accept an assignment to Buffalo or become a free agent.

Adam Rubin covers the Mets for ESPNNewYork.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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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