Manuel's solution for Bay: keep playing

Manuel's solution for Bay: keep playing

BALTIMORE -- Jason Bay's numbers continue to be less than encouraging, yet Mets manager Jerry Manuel insists the best way for his slugging left fielder to work out of his slump is to continue playing.

So Bay -- who entering Sunday was 1-for-24 over his past six games with six strikeouts with one hit in his past 13 at-bats with runners in scoring position -- was back in the lineup for the finale of a three-game Interleague series against the Baltimore Orioles.

"If he's fresh, I think [Bay] has to play his way out of what he's [dealing with]," Manuel said. "I don't see fatigue as a part of his issues. It's more of him being in one of those streaks. The only way for him to get out is to play."

Still, Bay's drought has Manuel scratching his head. Bay, signed to a four-year, $66 million deal in the offseason, is hitting .272 with three home runs and 24 RBIs.

"I'm really puzzled by him," Manuel said. "He's just so different for me, that it's been really tough for me to figure out. We've talked about a lot of different things, mechanics and what have you, but he's played enough that you confidently feel that he knows what he's doing and he knows how to overcome it."

While Bay remained in the lineup Sunday, several other regulars got a break, as Manuel packed the batting order with left-handed bats against Orioles right-hander Kevin Millwood.

Chris Carter was back at designated hitter, a position Manuel had considered using to give shortstop Jose Reyes a break from field duty. Jesus Feliciano replaced Jeff Francoeur in right field and Alex Cora started at second base instead of Ruben Tejada. Right-handed-hitting catcher Henry Blanco caught Mike Pelfrey, giving Rod Barajas a day off.