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Bay more comfortable than ever

03.11.10 at 1:20 pm ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — Jason Bay had gone through it before, all the hugs and handshakes.

This time the adventure consisted of a meet-and-greet with his former Red Sox teammates in and around the batting cage at Tradtion Field.

“Seeing those guys it’s almost like I never left,” Bay said. “But within Day 2 of me being here, it’s been seemless. A lot of that probably my own doing. I’ve been the new guy in the clubhouse more than a few times so the longer you play the more guys you play with and against which makes it easier. To be honest with you I feel I’ve been here a lot longer than the two weeks I have. It’s refreshing.

“I still have a lot of good friends and teammates over there, so it was good to see those guys. If you’ve been there a week it’s a little bit different. If Adam LaRoche (who was with the Red Sox last season for nine days) comes back I don’t know if the handshakes will be as big, but that’s the way it goes.”

Having switched organizations five times is part of the understanding, as is standing in the same cramped Mets clubhouse he did as a member of New York’s Single A team in St. Lucie back in 2002. But what truly has Bay carrying a peace of mind he didn’t previously possess is the certainty that has come with his situation.

Not only does Bay possess a four-year, $64 million deal with a vesting option for a fifth year, but he also has a full no-trade clause that eliminates any kind of doubts.

“Probably,” said Bay when asked if this was the most comfortable h has been in his career. “Pittsburgh was up and down. Boston, I had a great time there, but I didn’t know where I was going to be. Ultimately now there’s a little bit of ease. Even all offseason I was wondering where I was going to be and finally in January I signed the contract and kind of exhaled knowing where I was going to be, but by that point there was a month left in the offseason. The offseason felt like it was a month long because there were so many unknowns. Then being here, you dig your feet in knowing that you’re going to be part of something. You know you’re going to be here. I think it’s a little bit more settling.”

Bay compared his current state to last season at this time, when contract negotiations were heating up a bit. Now he has nothing to worry about but baseball, but in 2009 the drama of working on a new deal proved to be an unavoidable albatross.

“Regardless whether you like it or not, when you have impending free agency that’s going to be a topic, I understand that,” Bay said. “I was curious to how I was going to react. You play the business as usual card and you hope it is that way. And, you know what, surprisingly it was.

“It was a situation where you can’t do anything about it. If there was something I could do, or if there was something I wasn’t doing, that was holding it up that it could become an issue. But when it’s not up to you, you do what you can do and everything is secondary. But the moment you have a hand in it that’s when things start to change.

“It’s been a refreshingly smooth transition.”

Something else Bay discussed was the perception that his power would be diminished because of the spacious confines of Citi Field.

“I understand it’s good fodder, but I played in Pittsburgh and it might not be Citi Field, but it’s not Coors Field or anything like that. Historically most of my home runs were hit on the road for whatever reason,” said Bay, who has hit 106 home runs on the road, and 79 at home. “It’s not like all of a sudden you’re looking at it and saying, ‘He hit 28 at home and five on the road.’ I’m not giving it much thought. There’s also other ways to drive in runs. I don’t have to hit 40 home runs to drive in 100. It helps, but ultimately I’m trying to get on base and drive in runs. Let’s give it more than one year before we start writing it off.”

His former manager Terry Francona agreed.

“I’ll tell you what,” Francona noted, “when Jason Bay hits a home run, it’s a home run.”

(Note: For a representation of how Bay’s hits at Fenway would have translated to Citi Field click here)

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