NEW YORK – Jason Bay was in a hurry to get to Citi Field.
After sitting idle for a month, the New York Mets outfielder finally felt no symptoms from a concussion and was cleared to begin his rehabilitation.
He got the call from trainer Ray Ramirez Friday afternoon.
"I'm so bored," Bay said before the Mets faced the Houston Astros. "Ray called at 3:30 and I walked out the door — I left at 3:35. I couldn't get out of the house fast enough."
Returning to the field will not be nearly as quick.
The first step for Bay, who has had no headaches since Tuesday, will be getting into shape while watching for symptoms from the head injury he sustained when he ran into a wall at Dodger Stadium making a catch on July 23.
With the minor league season coming to an end the Mets will have to figure out a way for Bay to get game ready.
"It's going to be a mini-spring training process so I'm doing that and making sure my head doesn't bother me. There's a complete process and I don't even know if there is a mappable timeline for it," Bay said. "I have every intent — I want to play this year. I also understand there's time constraints."
Bay's first season in New York after signing a $66 million, four-year deal has been a major disappointment. He is hitting .259 with six homers and 47 RBIs in 95 games, a year after he hit 36 homers with Boston.
"Can't sugarcoat it, not good," Bay said. "I'm definitely a lot better than that."
And he's eager to prove it, but he is also realistic.
The 31-year-old had no expectations for his return because he has never had a concussion before, but he would like to be cleared to play in games for "peace of mind" going into the offseason.
The Mets will be extremely cautious with Bay. They were criticized for the way they handled outfielder Ryan Church in 2008 when he sustained his second concussion in less than three months.
"There's just no timetable. The first step is that he's clear," Mets general manager Omar Minaya said. "It's not like you got a pulled hamstring or you got an oblique. It's a little bit more — at least we have an idea when a hamstring guy is going to come back and these injuries, it's not like you have a history.
"The key that you learn is be patient, don't rush it," Minaya said. "When the time is right it will happen."
Bay said he watched the play "more times than I need to," and that he has spoken to many people who have had concussions, including Justin Morneau. The Minnesota Twins first baseman has been out since July 8 and his return this season is uncertain.
Also, Mets shortstop Jose Reyes was out of the Mets' lineup Friday because he aggravated the right oblique injury that forced him to miss the All-Star game in July. Manager Jerry Manuel said he was day to day.
The Mets purchased the contract of infielder Luis Hernandez from Triple-A Buffalo to provide some infield depth while Reyes sits. To make room for him New York sent outfielder Jesus Feliciano to Buffalo. The Mets have 39 players on their 40-man roster.