New York Mets left fielder Jason Bay, who is hitting just .240 in 15 games this season, was placed on the disabled list after suffering a non-displaced fracture of a rib on his left side while attempting a full-extension catch of a ball hit by Gregor Blanco in the second game of the Mets' doubleheader against the San Francisco Giants on Apr. 23.
Bay, who has badly struggled with the Mets since joining the team in 2010, said his ribs were sore and he wasn't breathing normally.
"I knew it hurt pretty well," Bay said in an ESPNNewYork.com report. "I was hoping, best case, that it was a bruise. I got up this morning and the way it was feeling, if it was a bruise, it was a pretty good one."
The Mets used Mike Baxter and Scott Hairston in left field in their 2-1 victory over the Miami Marlins on Apr. 24, and neither man did much to impress the fans on hand at Citi Field or New York manager Terry Collins.
Hairston drew a walk in his only plate appearance, but Baxter went 0-for-2 with a strikeout.
When Bay returns from the disabled list, it's pretty safe to say he's probably not going to have to worry about losing his job to Hairston or Baxter.
However, there's some good-looking young prospects who could give Bay a run for his money if they start hitting with any consistency.
Jordany Valdespin, who was called up on Apr. 23 for the injured Ronny Cedeno, is apparently getting a crash course in left field after he spent some of the spring learning the center field position.
Valdespin some some limited playing time in the Mets' victory over the Marlins on Apr. 24, but he played second base and didn't get any at-bats.
He excelled at the minor league level this season before his call-up, as he tallied 21 hits with 13 runs scored in just 81 plate appearances for the Buffalo Bisons.
The Mets also brought up outfielder Zach Lutz, who was hitting .333 with 10 runs batted in through 19 games this season at the triple-A level.
If either Lutz or Valdespin get rolling at the Major League level, I can easily see a scenario where Bay will have to fight to get back in the everyday starting lineup.
According to a report by ESPN's Adam Rubin, Mets manager Terry Collins suggested he may use Valdespin in left field against righty pitching, with Hairston taking on the southpaw hurlers.
As of now, we know what Baxter and Hairston can bring to the table. I personally would love to see Valdespin and Lutz get some playing time to try to impress Collins and perhaps win Bay's starting job for good.
Will Jason Bay automatically get his starting job back when he returns from the disabled list? Let me know in the comments.
Eric Holden is a lifelong New York Mets fan. Follow him on Twitter @ericholden.
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