NEW YORK -- Jason Bay is finally back, activated from the disabled list before Thursday's game against the Astros.
The Mets spent their pregame hours rapping about what Bay means to this team, and what he can offer with his bat, his hustle and merely his presence.
Now, the question has shifted back toward production for Bay, who hit just six home runs in the four months before his concussion last July.
"The home run was a big part of my game, driving in runs," Bay said. "Not having that and still being able to drive runs in, you try to take some positives. It wasn't a lot, but I feel like I'm better than that guy, and I kind of feel like I rededicated to that and I'm just trying to get back to it. I think at some point last year, I lost it. I lost being that guy. I've had a lot of time to try to get it back."
After the concussion knocked him out for the final two months of last season, Bay finished this spring with a left oblique injury -- "impeccable timing," he quipped -- that kept him sidelined for most of April.
Now, he is back, taking the roster spot of reliever Bobby Parnell, who went on the disabled list with numbness in his right middle finger. In addition to giving the Mets another proven slugger in the middle of their lineup, Bay's presence will allow Angel Pagan to slide back into the two hole in the lineup, while simultaneously providing better protection for middle-of-the-order hitters David Wright, Carlos Beltran and Ike Davis.
"You're getting another guy who's a star," manager Terry Collins said. "That's a huge addition to anybody's lineup, and right now we need it here. We need his presence. We need everything he brings to the table."
Ideally, the Mets hope, Bay will immediately reestablish himself as the player who averaged 31 home runs per season from 2005-09, making three All-Star teams and earning a four-year, $66 million free-agent contract from the Mets.
Bay, for his part, is simply looking to provide a few more victories for the team with the worst record in Major League Baseball.
"I'm not really trying to step in here and take over this team, per se," Bay said. "I'm just trying to help out."