Conversation with Jason Bay

There are all kinds of reasons to root for Jason Bay. First, he's a heck of a nice guy. Articulate and gracious, talking baseball with him was an absolute pleasure. Second, he's an excellent baseball player. He's got an approach at the plate more befitting a grizzled veteran, an approach that is the model for today's young hitters. Third, he's got an appreciation for fine comedy. And lastly, he grew up in the home of a Red Sox Fan.

As if there was any doubt, Red Sox nation extends even to Trail, British Columbia. We also covered the health of his wrist, what it's like breaking in as a 22nd round pick, and the type of music his girlfriend enjoys. I hope this conversation reads as enjoyably as it was conducted.

How is the wrist feeling?

It's fine. You know the 1st week, it's so hard to get back into baseball shape but now there's no problem.

Is it back to 100 percent?

I don't want to say 100 percent but it's real close. It doesn't bother me. I just don't think it's 100 percent though, probably high 90s.

How tough an injury was it to come back from?

The hardest part was sitting around. I had 3 weeks in a cast and there's not much you can do. I just sat around. After I got the cast off I had a lot of rehab. It didn't take long, I just had to get the mobility back in my wrist and so once I got the mobility back it was fine. It wasn't that tough, just sitting the 3 weeks before that was the toughest part.

What are some of the differences you've noticed among the different minor league systems you've been in regarding their approaches to hitting?

In SD, (the coaches) kind of have their own style. The Expos and the Mets, they kind of had a, not totally, but a little bit of a set system where they wanted guys to do certain things. You come over to the Padres, especially if you come over in a trade or if you weren't drafted by them, and everyone has their own approach. (The SD coaches) just work with you, see what you've got and work off that instead of trying to, I don't want to say make you a robot, but making you do it their way rather than let you do it your way. Here, they might just tinker with you here and there.

You're an extremely patient hitter, how would you describe your approach at the plate?

If I get a good pitch to hit early in the count, in the right situation, I'll definitely get after it. But if it's a guy I haven't seen before, if it's early and there's nobody on, I might take a few pitches just to see what he's got and try to get the count in my favor where I can maybe get a good fastball to hit. That's something I've been trying to do a lot more this year, try and be more patient and draw some more walks, see some pitches and get comfortable hitting with 2 strikes.

Growing up in Trail, British Colombia, were you thinking of becoming a Major Leaguer, or did you want to skate for the Canadians?

When you're growing up in Trail BC, you're thinking hockey and that's what everyone does when you're young. I did it and after a while, when I was 10, 11, 12 years old I decided I didn't like it. My dad was a big baseball fan, really for no reason; he just liked to watch baseball. He was a big Red Sox fan…

How do you become a Red Sox fan in British Columbia?

I have no idea, he was just a big Red Sox fan and we would watch baseball a lot. When I was old enough to play little league I took to it really well. More so than hockey, I was a much better baseball player compared to the other kids out there. As years went on and I got older, I got a little bit better and better.

Youngblood or Strange Brew?

Strange Brew. Definitely. I'm a big fan.

Coming into this year, you've hit for power, a lot of doubles but not a lot of home runs. This year, you were among the PCL leaders in HRs at the time of your promotion. Did you change anything coming into this year?

Not at all, I can't really explain it. Maturing, maybe just getting a little bit older, plus the last 2 years, not that the PCL is hitter-friendly, but I've been in the Florida State League and the Southern League, these hot and humid leagues that don't really cater to guys who hit the ball in the air. I'm not saying that the PCL does that, but I can't really explain it. I think it's just a maturity thing.

How is Portland's park to hit in?

Even though you look down the lines and it's 317, you don't see many balls that just squeak over the fence. We were talking about this with a few of the guys on the team. This is more of a pitcher's park. Anything from the scoreboard (left-center) around to the bullpens (right-center), it's a graveyard over there. You get used to it and then you go somewhere where the ball does jump a bit more and you've got that much more of an advantage.

You were a 22nd round draft pick. Did you notice different treatment for the higher picks when you were first breaking in?

Once you get drafted, everyone gets an equal opportunity. But when you're a high draft pick you have more opportunities, you have a margin for error, you can make more mistakes, it's a money thing. I was just there filling out a roster spot at the time. The only way for you to move up is to produce. You're working just as hard as the next guy and you know that you might have to work just a little bit harder because he's going to get another chance.

As your career progresses, where do you see yourself playing, centerfield or rightfield?

From what I've heard from a lot of people, and if I'm fortunate enough to have a long career, I'm a corner OF. I do like playing centerfield though, you can peer right into the hitter and get a good jump on the ball.

Describe your emotions when you first heard you were being promoted.

I was really excited when I heard, that first night I couldn't sleep at all. It's been something that I've wanted for so long, it was just a great feeling when I heard the news.

And your 1st Major League home run?

That was surreal. I don't think it set in until I was rounding 1st base. I wasn't thinking about a home run, I was nervous enough trying to get my first big league hit.

Finally, this is something I've been wondering, do the players select their entrance music, or do you just kind of get assigned something?

Some of the guys select their own music, if you don't choose something, you just get whatever they have up there. My song is by Alien Ant Farm. I know my song was up there from last season (note – it was Adan Amezcua's music). When they started using that song for me, and my girlfriend heard it, she told me she kind of liked it, so I've just stuck with it.

Special thanks to http://www.pdxbeavers.com/ They have been gracious enough to allow MadFriars.com to reprint this interview in its entirety.

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