Jason Bay, one of the Padres' top prospects, is creating excitement within the organization by hitting home runs to all fields, off a variety of pitchers, playing well in the outfield and stealing bases.
In his latest feat, Bay proved rust-proof. The Canadian outfielder, undeterred by a fractured wrist that cut short his time with the Padres, came back from a 41-game hiatus to hit four home runs in seven games with Class AAA Portland.
"This guy didn't skip a beat, and that's hard to find," said Tye Waller, the Padres' director of player development. "That shows me something about his mental toughness. He's showing, 'Hey, I'm going to get back to the big leagues.' "
In spring training, manager Bruce Bochy said Bay, 24, could become a regular, not just a nice extra.
Bay responded with 14 home runs and a .302 batting average in his first 179 at-bats with Portland. He impressed the Padres over three games in late May, going 2-for-8 with a home run (off Arizona closer Matt Mantei) before Elmer Dessens' fastball fractured a wrist.
General manager Kevin Towers likens Bay to Kevin McReynolds, one of the best outfielders in Padres history. Last August, Towers obtained Bay from the Mets for reliever Steve Reed.
"Bay has power to all fields," Waller said. "I don't know what he did this winter as far as his strength, as far as allowing him to drive ball out to all fields, but his confidence is at an all-time high. He's so quiet at the plate and under control. It's like he's aged three years in the wintertime."
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