Notebook: Bucs’ Bay plays waiting game
MILWAUKEE – Pirates outfielder Jason Bay already knows he will be spending his upcoming three-day break in Detroit, site of the All-Star Game. The only remaining question is whether he will be in the Motor City representing the National League squad.
That will be answered today when rosters for the two All-Star teams will be finalized during a selection show at 7 p.m.
Bay has accepted an invitation to participate in the reformatted home run derby next Monday at Comerica Park. Under the revised format, players from eight countries will swing for the fences as a way to generate interest in the inaugural World Cup that will be held next spring.
Bay was chosen to represent Canada.
“I’ll be there regardless of what happens (today),” Bay said. “I haven’t heard anything announced yet, but I saw myself on the (home run derby) commercial, so I’m assuming they are going ahead with it.”
Bay is the obvious candidate to represent the Pirates in the actual game. His .310 batting average is tops on the team as are his 15 home runs, 56 runs scored, .388 on-base percentage and .562 slugging percentage. He ranks second among Pirates players with 40 RBI.
Bay batted .337 in June and had a .385 average over his previous 20 games entering the Pirates’ game last night against the Milwaukee Brewers.
“I’m aware that numbers-wise I have a chance to make it,” Bay said Saturday. “I don’t want to put too much stock into it until it actually goes down. It would be a huge honor if I was chosen and I would have an unbelievable time there.”
If selected, Bay would be the first outfielder to represent the Pirates since Brian Giles made the team in 2001.
Bay was not among the three outfielders voted into the starting lineup by fan balloting. If he isn’t among eight position players named on the player ballot, Bay’s fate would be in the hands of St. Louis Cardinals manager Tony La Russa.
Bay likely made a lasting impression on La Russa last Sunday when he hit two home runs in an extra-inning win over the Cardinals.
“His numbers dictate that he’s the guy,” Pirates manager Lloyd McClendon said.
McClendon didn’t expect Bay, the reigning NL Rookie of the Year, to succumb to the dreaded sophomore slump.
“This guy is very mature and goes about his business the right way,” McClendon said. “It doesn’t surprise me that his numbers are what they are. I think they’re going to get even better throughout the year.”
In the unlikely event Bay is not chosen, McClendon thinks the Pirates representative would be either Jose Mesa, Mark Redman, Dave Williams or Rob Mackowiak. He said La Russa has not called seeking input.
Ryan Doumit was Class AAA Indianapolis’ regular catcher this season, but McClendon wanted a more experienced receiver behind the plate for Zach Duke’s maor-league debut.
Humberto Cota got the nod. His only experience with Duke came in spring training.
“I’m not very comfortable with having a young catcher and a young pitcher out there in this atmosphere,” McClendon said. “I’d rather have a guy I consider more polished behind the plate to work with a young pitcher.”
Bautista named to team
Third base prospect Jose Bautista will take Duke’s spot in the Futures Game, which will be held next Sunday in Detroit. Bautista is batting .307 with 10 and 52 RBI in 72 games at Class AA Altoona.
Altoona pitcher Paul Maholm previously had been named to replace Ian Snell in the annual game for top prospects.
Full day of work
Craig Wilson, expected to be sent on an injury rehab assignment Monday, took early work for a second day in a row. He ran the bases with conditioning coordinator Frank Velasquez, took fly balls from coach Rusty Kuntz, spent time in the indoor cage with hitting coach Gerald Perry and participated in regular batting practice.