Playing in Boston hasn't changed Bay
Left fielder getting broader recognition playing in big market
ST. LOUIS -- Once a well-kept secret in Pittsburgh, Jason Bay's hitting heroics are now a regular staple of national highlight programs. This is his third All-Star Game, but first with the high profile that comes when you are a standout performer for the Boston Red Sox.
So instead of his past All-Star experiences, when Bay would sit at his table during media availability and visit with maybe three or four writers, he drew a steady crowd throughout Monday's hour-long availability session.
The leading vote-getter from start to finish in balloting for American League outfielders, Bay is the same force he was with the Pirates. It's just that people now notice him.
"I mean, I'm not hitting any more or less," Bay said. "I'm not using different bats. Nothing has changed. But like I point out to a lot of people, and it's not a slight to anybody, the environment that I'm in now, especially lineup-wise, is very conducive for success. To put anybody in that situation is going to make them better. It's going to magnify certain things, and in some aspects, it makes your job a lot easier."
An All-Star for the first time since 2006, Bay was joined by teammates Kevin Youkilis, Josh Beckett, Jonathan Papelbon and Tim Wakefield. Dustin Pedroia had to relinquish his spot on the squad because of a personal matter.
Given that Bay is a core member of the Red Sox, both on the field and in the clubhouse, it's sometimes hard to fathom that it's been less than a year since he was acquired from Pittsburgh for Manny Ramirez.
"He brings a lot to the table just as an unbelievable hitter with a lot of power, but a big thing is the type of teammate he is and the way he plays the game," said Youkilis. "He's a great teammate and a great player. His presence in the clubhouse is always nice."
The only thing as consistent as Bay's numbers? His personality.
"I think what makes Jason Bay is that he's always Jason Bay," said Beckett. "He doesn't fall one way or the other. Whether he's 0-for-5 or 5-for-5, he's the same."
It's just that the perception of Bay has changed dramatically since his move to Boston. The funny thing about Bay is that he never minded his under-the-radar status in Pittsburgh. At the same time, his ego hasn't seemed to get any kind of boost from being the envy of Red Sox Nation.
"I never came in with that as a goal -- to try to prove anyone right or wrong, or what have you," said Bay. "I've maintained the whole time I wanted to come to Boston to be the guy I've been in Pittsburgh. Easier said than done, obviously, so it was nice just to settle in and, I guess, be accepted. You don't go into perfect situations every time, but the fans welcomed me there from the minute I walked on to the field, which was a little awkward, like I said before. I wouldn't change it for anything, and I'm happy with where I'm at."
The Red Sox couldn't be happier to have him on board.
"I knew he was a great player," said Youkilis. "But he played in Pittsburgh, so he didn't get the media coverage that he would in Boston, so I think he's the same player, but in a better market and on a better team, so sometimes that shines a little bit more."
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.