The Forgotten Slugger


News emanating from Seattle Mariners camp seems to indicate that former Red Sox outfielder, and Sox fan favorite, Jason Bay is finally on the comeback trail with a new team.

The 34-year old Bay has spent most of the last three seasons in both concussion and slump hell.  Ever since he signed that big free agent contract with the New York Mets after the 2009 season it has been nothing but bad times for Bay.

Mar 3, 2013; Surprise, AZ, USA; Seattle Mariners left fielder Jason Bay (12) at bat during the second inning against the Texas Rangers at Surprise Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

The downturn in Bay’s career really seemed to pick up speed in late July 2010 after he ran into the outfield wall at Dodger Stadium and suffered what turned out to be a severe concussion.  The post concussion symptoms, as well as other injuries, continued to nag at him long term after that and he never got back to being the player he was in both Pittsburgh and Boston.

He ended up not only losing his power swing in Citi Field, but he couldn’t even hit for average or stay in the lineup.  He in no way resembled the guy who was the best player on the Pirates for several seasons.

This led the Mets to determine they were never going to get full value out of the contract he signed, so they decided on a mutual termination of the contract with Bay after 2012.  This allowed him to become a free agent.  Bay then signed a one year, $1 million deal with Seattle in hopes of resurrecting his career.

Now both Bay and Mariners management seem to feel that he is finally rid of the concussion symptoms permanently and ready to assume his place as a bona fide major league hitter.  He has a clean slate, feels good and believes he is back and ready to take off.

Mar 3, 2013; Surprise, AZ, USA; Seattle Mariners left fielder Jason Bay (left) dives safely back to first as Texas Rangers left fielder

Brandon Allen

(right) awaits the throw during the fourth inning at Surprise Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

The hope here is that Bay has, indeed, put his concussion symptoms behind him because he is such a well liked player in the sport.  Both teammates and opponents have nothing but good things to say about Bay as a person.  If he’s right, the Mariners got themselves a steal.

Red Sox fans have nothing but good things to say about his play.  When he was acquired from the Pirates at the 2008 trade deadline he essentially was tasked with replacing Manny Ramirez in left field.  His debut in a Sox uniform was unforgettable as he scored both runs in a 2-1, 12 inning win over Oakland and a love affair was born.

Bay loved playing in Boston and performed well on the big stage.  The Sox chose not to re-sign him due to concern over potential future injuries and they turned out to be right.  But no one could have foreseen Bay’s downfall in the way it happened.

It is curious that he struggled in New York even before his concussion problems, but many believe he was simply trying too hard to live up to the pressure of having the big contract.

Whatever the case, there is no question Bay was one of the most well liked players to ever wear a Boston uniform.  Considering he followed the great Manny in left field, his accomplishments were never given short shrift.  That is truly remarkable considering the sometimes fickle nature of Red Sox fans, who are always quick to harshly criticize their own.

Anyone who bleeds Red Sox blood should be rooting extra hard for Bay when he makes his first visit with Seattle on July 30.  It should never be forgotten that Bay more than filled the void after the Sox parted ways with a probable future hall of famer and the team never skipped a beat.

So if you’re sitting in Fenway in late July, be sure to say thanks to the guy standing in left field.  He’s a class act and once gave the Nation everything he had.