Rest works wonders for concussed Bay

Rest works wonders for concussed Bay

NEW YORK -- Saying he feels "astronomically better" over the past few days and "a thousand times better" than he thought he would at this point in his recovery, Mets outfielder Jason Bay returned to Citi Field this weekend amid optimism that his concussion is less severe than originally feared.

"I actually feel pretty good," Bay said. "A lot better than I thought I would."

More than most, Bay can lean on an accurate frame of reference, having missed more than two months of the 2010 season with a serious concussion after crashing into Dodger Stadium's outfield wall -- much as he slammed his head into Citi Field's fence on June 15. In the days following that injury, both manager Terry Collins and general manager Sandy Alderson said publicly that they feared a long absence for Bay.

But in 2010, Bay took plane rides with the team and appeared in games in the days following his concussion -- activities that, in hindsight, may have stunted his recovery. This time, Bay reported immediately to his home in Westchester, N.Y., where he "had a week of real relaxation, just kind of doing nothing."

The result was a symptom-free, high-spirited outfielder who discussed his concussion on Saturday afternoon. Though Bay will not have a firm grasp on his status until he begins attempting some more intensive physical activity, possibly as soon as this week, he also knows that his current condition is promising.

"It took me a lot longer to get to this point two years ago," Bay said.

"The fact that his head feels better, that the headaches and the dizziness is going away, those are great signs," said Collins, who spoke with Bay at length on Friday, when the outfielder showed up to the park for the first time since his injury. "I know our medical team will take this slow and hopefully get him back as soon as we possibly can."

Bay hesitated when asked if he will ultimately rein in his effort on defense, avoiding the types of headlong dives that have resulted in two concussions and a fractured rib over the past 24 months. Now 33 years old, Bay still boasts plenty of mobility in the outfield and has established a reputation as an aggressive defender.

But the result has been an inability to stay healthy since the Mets signed him to a four-year, $66 million contract in 2010. Bay has appeared in just 240 games since that time, hitting 22 home runs.

"It's not ideal, that's for sure," Bay said. "There is a concern, no question. I'm not going to say that there isn't. But at the same time, it's something that you try to forget about."