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Jason Bay has grown more productive and more comfortable in new role | Mariners Notebook
Jason Bay says his newfound revival with the Mariners boils down to his accepting "the evolution of a career" that no longer sees him playing...
Seattle Times staff reporter
NEW YORK — Jason Bay says his newfound revival with the Mariners boils down to his accepting "the evolution of a career" that no longer sees him playing daily.
Bay played his first game in New York on Tuesday since being released from his contract by the New York Mets last winter. He signed with Seattle and entered Tuesday with a .253 batting average, four home runs and an on-base-plus-slugging percentage of .813 in 75 at-bats.
After a slow start in his new bench role with the Mariners, Bay has turned it on to the point where he's earned more regular playing time.
"I feel a little more comfortable, at least in my preparation and in my role," Bay told a gathering of mainly New York-based reporters before the game. "At the beginning of the year, I talked a lot to Raul (Ibanez). Him and I, the first few games, we were on the bench, and I was like, man, knowing now this was my role, I was asking 'What do you do?'
"It was more like formulating a plan because I knew early on I wasn't going to play," Bay added. "I might get in there to pinch-run, for defense, hit here or there. So, it was just when to be ready, how to be ready. And that was kind of a process and I feel I got a handle on that."
Mariners manager Eric Wedge said Bay appears to have adapted well after so many years as an everyday starter.
"I'm trying to get him in there as much as I can against left-handers, he's been given some opportunities against some right-handers," Wedge said. "And he's made some real adjustments. He's done some things to right himself a little bit and it's paid off for us in terms of his production."
Wedge said he didn't worry about Bay's adjustment to a part-time role because the two have communicated often about when the playing time would come. Wedge tried to get Bay and other backups in as often as possible early so that if injuries did necessitate a bigger role — as they now have — "they wouldn't be starting from scratch."
Bay's former Mets team would gladly have taken his current numbers in any of his past three injury-plagued seasons in New York. Bay says he still follows his former club, keeps in touch with some former teammates and wishes things could have gone differently.
"Obviously, I was trying to do the things you think you can do," Bay said. "Somewhere along the line, it wasn't happening. It wasn't for a lack of trying. I tried everything."
Kelley shows what M's gave up
Former Mariners relief pitcher Shawn Kelley has spent the first six weeks of the season putting up some of the best strikeout numbers of his career for his new Yankees squad. Kelley entered Tuesday's game in the seventh inning in place of C.C. Sabathia and promptly struck out Kelly Shoppach with runners at the corners and one out before escaping the jam on a fly out by Raul Ibanez.
Kelley has now logged 25 strikeouts in 15 innings as part of a devastating bullpen the Yankees have deployed often in getting off to a first-place start. He says he never expected the February trade by the Mariners that sent him to New York for minor league outfielder Abraham Almonte.
"I was shocked," Kelley said. "I mean, I'd already gone down to Arizona (for spring training), I was coming off what I felt was a pretty good season. I was excited and looking forward to the year with the changes they'd made over there. So, when I got the phone call, I was shocked. But I've seen enough over the years to realize it's just part of the game." Last season was Kelley's first in which he was completely healthy after arm surgery. He attributes his enhanced strikeout prowess so far to merely having all his pitches working again the way they were back in 2009 before his arm woes began.
Michael Morse had a double and two singles on Tuesday for his first three-hit game of the season. Morse now has five hits in two games for the Mariners since being bumped back to the No. 5 spot in the batting order.
Geoff Baker: 206-464-8286 or firstname.lastname@example.org.