Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Bay just keeps walking

Jason Bay has hit 30 home runs three times in his big-league career. He's driven in 100 runs three times in his big-league career. He's slugged at least .500 in every year but one since his Rookie of the Year campaign in 2004.

But if opposing pitchers don't want to pitch to him, that's just fine with his manager.

"If guys don't leave the strike zone, we're OK," Terry Francona said. "We don't need them to do that. We don't want them to do that. If we take our walks and drive up pitch counts, more often than not, the hits also come with it. They come in tandem."

Bay has walked an American League-best 15 times so far this season; he walked five times in four games against Baltimore, including twice on Monday. But he's also hit three home runs and 10 RBI thus far, totals matched only by the smoking-hot Kevin Youkilis.

"I'm just trying to have good at-bats, and that's the result," Bay said. "I enjoy walking. Some guys think of it as a negative thing, but I like it. Getting on base is part of my game, and that's part of it. I don't think you can consciously go up there being like, 'I'm going to walk' or 'I want to walk,' but when you have good at-bats, if you walk, hey, you take your base -- and we've got enough guys behind me that I'll take my chances."

(Among those guys: Third baseman Mike Lowell, who leds the Red Sox and ranks sixth in the American League with 13 RBI so far this season.)

Taking walks isn't a new concept for Bay; he walked 95 times with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2005 and 102 times in 2006. He went through a couple of stretches similar to this one -- he drew 19 walks in a 16-game stretch in July and August -- but didn't think much of it then, either.

"I was never up there thinking, 'Oh, they're trying to pitch around me,'" he said. "You're going up there and trying to have a good at-bat. I never really noticed, never really saw people blatantly trying to pitch around me. There are certain situations when it's very, very obvious, and I never really ran into that. Maybe I'm naive, but maybe it didn't happen. I don't know. But I never really felt like I was in a situation where I was constantly being pitched around. I never felt like that."

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