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Cora: Bay will be fine

01.07.10 at 11:14 am ET
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At his introductory press conference at Citi Field, Tuesday afternoon, Jason Bay said that prior to signing with the Mets he leaned on three players when doing his homework. First was former Red Sox reliever Billy Wagner, whom Bay grilled about New York a few times in the back of the team plane. Then was former Pittsburgh teammate Xavier Nady.

The final reference Bay checked in on was Mets, and former Red Sox, infielder Alex Cora, albeit non-verbal communication.

“He texted me a few times in the middle part of December,” said Cora from his Miami-area home. “The last time we had communicated was the beginning of the football season, just talking about fantasy football, so I was kind of surprised when I got the text. I’m like, ‘Oh, this is for real!’ I knew we were interested, but to be honest when they mentioned Seattle I thought that was going to be a perfect fit for him. Then they went out and went another direction. And I always thought Boston was going to be in the hunt, but they signed (John) Lackey and (Mike) Cameron.”

But after going back and forth via text message, Cora started believing that the momentum regarding securing Bay’s services might be swinging in the Mets’ favor. Shortly thereafter, Mets general manager Omar Minaya touched base with his infielder to pick Cora’s brain regarding the outfielder whom he played with for three months in Boston.

“We talked a little bit, and that’s obviously part of doing his homework,” Cora said. “Everybody knows what J-Bay can do on the field, so it was more like was he was like as a person. Here’s how I put it to him — He went to Boston during one of the biggest distractions you could have, and while nobody wants to admit it he was there to replace Manny (Ramirez). During that whole time we were expected to win. That’s how tough it was, and I’m not saying New York is going to be easier, but it showed that he was going to be able to handle anything. That was the message.”

Cora also downplayed the challenges that lay ahead for Bay in regard to the spacious dimensions of Citi Field, citing the image of Arizona’s Mark Reynolds hitting four home runs in three days at the home of the Mets last summer.

“The ballpark plays big, but you have to realize that the lineup we were putting out there wasn’t too powerful last year,” Cora explained. “You could have put us in (Houston’s) Minute Maid Park, or (Philadelphia’s) Citizens Field and our power numbers would be down. I think it’s a fair place. I think he’ll be find.”

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