By Shannon Drayer
The Mariners introduced their newest addition, Jason Bay, to the media Monday morning at Safeco Field. Living in Kirkland for the past five offseasons, he did not need directions to the field. He did, however, need directions on how to actually get into the parking garage, something that took him two tries, he told us somewhat sheepishly.
He shouldn't have that problem going forward. The Trail, British Columbia native looked at home in the clubhouse in the city which he visited to see baseball as a child. A meeting with Jack Zduriencik a few weeks ago got the ball rolling and the deal was officially announced Saturday. For Bay, who is coming off a tough few years with the Mets, he is grateful for the chance at a fresh start.
"A fresh start, that is all I was looking for," he told the assembled media. "You want to start fresh, wipe the slate clean and that is what I get to do here."
He acknowledged that his playing time would have to be earned. There is opportunity but he has a job to grab and hold onto. He has little question he can still compete.
"I told Jack when I came here, this wasn't a platform spot for me, I was not picking a spot to try to boost value for next year. This is something where I feel like I can still play," he said.
The question on everyone's mind, of course, was what happened the last few years? What led to his .165/.237/.299/.536 line the prompted the Mets to cut ties with him this fall? Not a pleasant question to answer but Bay said that he has no problem owning up to the fact that was his season.
"I don't shy away from it," he said. "It's part of the job. Owning up to that is absolutely part of it. It didn't work. I can't put my finger on it. For me, I could never get going. I couldn't move forward, it was like I was stuck in one gear and couldn't get going. It wasn't for lack of trying. You got off to a slow start and it felt like you were swimming upstream the whole time."
He refused to blame the concussions he suffered for the problems he had at the plate. Talking with a concussion specialist here in Seattle helped give him peace of mind and he now feels better equipped to deal with the maintenance associated with his situation.
"I never had one of those ones where obviously you were knocked out," he said. "I had some really bad whiplash and a lot was attributed to the neck. It is still in the traditional sense a concussion but the second time I knew a little bit more how to treat it."
Physically he feels great right now. He told the group that he has been working out for the last month and a half to get ready for the season. As miserable as last season was he still had games where things came together. Those moments convinced him that he should push forward, that he still has something to contribute on the field.
"I feel like I can still do it, and I did do it in New York but there was no consistency," he said. "If I had gone months without any signs of life, but all of a sudden it's just bam, it's there. We just have got to get to a point where we can get it there consistently. Am I the exact same guy I was in '04 or '05? Probably not, but I feel like a large percentage of that is still pretty good."
That is what the Mariners are hoping. That change of scenery, new eyes on him, a fresh start, could lead to something that is still pretty good.