Jason Bay sat in the visitors’ dugout in Yankee Stadium with his Mariners uniform on, talking about the Mets.
Bay’s struggles with the other New York team were still a topic when he arrived in New York City with the Mariners, as was how he is adjusting to his new role with a new club.
“It’s kind of a different role for me,” Bay said. “Just trying to enjoy baseball again.”
Bay signed a four-year, $66 million deal with the New York Mets in 2009 after hitting 36 home runs with a .921 on-base plus slugging average (OPS) for Boston the year before. In three seasons with the Mets, Bay hit 10 fewer home runs than he did in that single season with Boston.
The Mets flailed along with Bay, often making him a back-page tabloid target.
“You’re trying to do the things you think you can do,” Bay said. “Somewhere along the line, it wasn’t happening. It wasn’t for lack of trying. We tried everything.”
Bay and the Mets agreed to a buyout last fall, which made him available to the Mariners.
“I turned down a couple offers of more playing time to go to Seattle, be close to home and see how that worked,” Bay said. “I had to basically make the team out of spring training and I knew that. It was a different mindset. There were no external factors, it was all on me.”
After Franklin Gutierrez was hurt, Bay began to get more at-bats, particularly against left-handed pitching. Bay said he spoke with Raul Ibañez about how to best handle a part-time role.
Bay was asked if he thought he’ll finish his career as a part-time player or be able to move back into a full-time role.
“I kind of feel like at this point in my career, I’m quite comfortable with that,” Bay said. “If you deserve to play, you will. If not, you won’t. That’s something, in a weird way, I actually kind of relish.”
Mariners starter Aaron Harang was scratched from Thursday’s start because of a tight lower back.
Harang, who is 6-foot-7, 260 pounds, often goes to the chiropractor to keep his back in shape. He’s had lower-back stiffness before and was scratched in 2010 while with the Cincinnati Reds because of it.
Harang said he first felt his back tighten Wednesday. He let manager Eric Wedge know and Wedge accordingly told Hector Noesi, who took Harang’s place, that he could be in line to start.
Wedge said he did not want to move up rookie Brandon Maurer to take Harang’s spot.
The Mariners anticipate Harang making his next scheduled start Tuesday in Los Angeles.
Ichiro was in good spirits in the New York clubhouse during the series with the Mariners, but he had a dismal time at the plate.
A seventh-inning single to center snapped an 0-for-22 streak on Thursday. His 1-for-5 performance dropped his average to .239.
It will be Maurer (2-5, 5.97 ERA) vs. Ubaldo Jimenez (3-2, 5.55) to start a three-game series at 4:05 p.m. Friday in Cleveland. The game will be broadcast on Root Sports, 1030-AM and 710-AM.