Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Bay at home in Boston

Jason Bay is off to a solid start in the "Bay State." The Trail native went 4-for-11 with one home run and three RBI, while scoring six runs during the Boston Red Sox three-game sweep of the Oakland Athletics over the weekend.

Bay has some pretty big shoes to fill in left field, where former fan favorite and future Hall of Famer Manny Ramirez roamed for the past eight seasons.

But the 29-year-old Bay has fit in nicely with the Red Sox (64-48), who are currently leading the American League wild card race by two games over the Chicago White Sox (61-49).

"The first day was kind of a mulligan as far as everything that happened. Getting out there and the last two days have been a lot more routine," Bay said after Boston's 5-2 win on Sunday.

"It's a testament to these guys because I feel like I've been here three weeks, not three days. It's been an easy transition." There was some talk that Bay, who has averaged 28 home runs and 94 RBI over the past four seasons, would succumb to the pressure of playing with a big-market club that is in the middle of a pennant chase.

During his tenure with the Pirates, Bay was never a part of a team that won more than 70 games. Now he is playing with the defending World Series champions.

But the Canadian showed no effects of playing in front of a sellout crowd -- although he will have to eventually prove himself in a more clutch situation in bigger games.

"One of the things we talked about [on Friday] was not looking back or forward and just attacking what's at hand," Red Sox manager Terry Francona said Sunday. "We did that very well." Bay received a standing ovation before his first plate appearance on Friday, and the cheers continued throughout the weekend as the left fielder made an immediate impact.

Batting fifth or sixth during the first three games, Bay homered in his first at-bat Saturday, which amused his teammates, who are used to their left fielder standing in admiration at his work.

"Some guys had a couple of laughs, because I was running down the line pretty hard and that ball went out by a pretty good margin," Bay said. "I'm not used to the park yet, but hopefully it will come to me." While Bay may not be able to match the production of Ramirez, the hustle and enthusiasm he's brought out from his teammates in the past three days is just what the Red Sox were looking for.