Bay cleared to begin physical activity

Bay cleared to begin physical activity

NEW YORK -- So bored, apprehensive and anxious was Jason Bay that when Mets trainer Ray Ramirez called the left fielder at his home Friday afternoon, Bay was "out the door five minutes later."

Ramirez, after speaking with Mets doctors, told Bay that he has been cleared to begin physical exertion. And so Bay, who suffered a concussion five weeks ago at Dodger Stadium, will begin riding a stationary bike with the goal of soon participating in baseball activities, and eventually, returning from the disabled list.

Even if Bay can only play in a handful of games down the stretch, he wants to return.

"It's probably going to be a fairly lengthy process," Bay said. "I haven't done much in a month. But I'm just excited to get out of the house and start doing something."

For the past five weeks, Bay and a slew of doctors have puzzled over his concussion, the symptoms of which did not fully reveal themselves until two days after Bay slammed against Dodger Stadium's left-field wall in late July. It was not until the plane ride back east that Bay began experiencing the bouts of dizziness and nausea that stayed with him for weeks.

Bay insists he never actually hit his head against the wall -- though direct head trauma is not a prerequisite for a concussion.

Whatever the root of his issues, the Mets refused to clear Bay for physical exertion until he lasted two consecutive days without experiencing symptoms. On Wednesday and Thursday, Bay did so for the first time. And that put a quick end to his days of lounging at home, chatting frequently with concussed Twins slugger Justin Morneau.

Morneau, like Bay, hopes to return in September. But his team is in the thick of a playoff race in the American League Central.

The Mets are in no such race, making Bay's return less necessary. Regardless, he will soon begin riding a stationary bike, while the Mets continue monitoring their $66 million outfielder for any recurrence of symptoms. With the team no longer in serious playoff contention, there are merits to the argument that he should not even attempt a comeback until next season.

"Whatever we do," Mets general manager Omar Minaya said, "we're definitely going to be cautious."

Though Bay understands that need for caution, he still feels compelled to return this season.

"It's peace of mind," he said. "I don't see why I couldn't and shouldn't play."

Even if Bay does return, he will not have much time to improve upon the .259 average, six home runs and 49 RBIs he amassed over his first 95 games as a Met.

"You can't sugarcoat it," he said. "I'm definitely a lot better than that. Like I've said before, this is the reality. This is what happened. Unfortunately it didn't go as expected. But I have plenty of time for redemption."