MILWAUKEE -- For weeks, Mets manager Terry Collins has preached patience with Jason Bay, his slumping left fielder. As recently as Wednesday, Collins said he had no plans to remove Bay from his lineup for any extended period of time.
But after Bay struck out in his final two plate appearances Wednesday, extending his hitless streak to a career-high 23 at-bats, Collins called Bay into his office and relayed the new plan: two consecutive days off to clear his mind. Bay was out of the lineup Thursday and will sit again Friday, in the latest attempt to rediscover his swing.
"It's a very difficult thing to do," Collins said. "He's proud. He's a pro. He's a star player. And when you're struggling, it's difficult."
"I'm trying anything," Bay said.
With his free time, Bay will continue to tinker his swing alongside hitting coach Dave Hudgens -- though he was somewhat at a loss when asked specifically what he needs to do to improve. Collins said the team won't consider sending Bay to the Minors to work out his problems.
"I get the same questions every day, and I kind of give the same answers," Bay said. "I'm just going up there trying to hit the baseball. I'm not really thinking of anything."
A three-time All-Star and .275 career hitter, Bay is batting .207 this season. His average and slugging percentages rank among the worst in the league, and he has not produced an extra-base hit since May 19.
Twice already over the past two weeks, Collins has given his left fielder time off to try and rediscover his form. But Bay has only sunk deeper into his slump.
"I'm just going out there and trying to do what I've always done," Bay said. "That's the frustrating part, when it's not happening. If I couldn't do it, it'd be a lot easier to deal with. But I know I've done it."
Collins pointed to Miller Park's dim lighting as a partial cause of Bay's troubles, prompting some to believe an eye exam could help the left fielder. Others believe his slump is entirely mental, still others believe it is physical and some consider it mechanical.
And that, for Bay, has been part of the problem. Too often this season, well-meaning coaches and teammates have bombarded him with advice, overloading Bay with information.
"But I think you can get over-coached to where there's too much information, and that could be an issue," Collins said.
For now, Bay will rest, work and attempt to improve. A streaky hitter even during his best years, Bay remains outwardly confident that a hot stretch will come. His batting practice sessions have encouraged him, even if his game results have not.
The time off, he says, can only help.
"It's not that this is a cure-all," Bay said. "But it's not a white flag, either."
Mets designate Evans for assignment
MILWAUKEE -- Seeking to ignite their offense, the Mets are about to shake up their bench.
The Mets designated Nick Evans for assignment following Thursday's 4-1 win over the Brewers, ending the infielder's brief and ineffective stint with the club. Receiving only sporadic at-bats against left-handed pitchers, Evans completed his tenure with an 0-for-12 run at the plate.
Though the Mets have not announced a corresponding move, all signs point to the team promoting Lucas Duda, who has seven homers in 14 games with Triple-A Buffalo since returning from a back injury. Duda is capable of playing both corner outfield positions as well as first base, the latter assignment potentially allowing the Mets to shift Daniel Murphy over to third.
Because Evans was designated for assignment once already this season, he has the right to declare free agency for the first time in his career, assuming he clears waivers. Yet it is unlikely that he would do so, given the uncertainty of playing time elsewhere.
Beltran has green light on basepaths
MILWAUKEE -- In 59 games this season, Carlos Beltran has matched his career norms in every major area but one: stolen bases. Once one of the game's more prolific basestealers -- he swiped 25 bags as recently as 2008 -- Beltran has not attempted a straight steal this season entering Thursday's game at Miller Park.
Despite concerns about Beltran's knees, however, Mets manager Terry Collins said he would encourage Beltran's aggressiveness on the bases.
"He's like a lot of these guys -- they're such good baserunners," Collins said. "If they think it's the opportunity where they think they can get the right jump in the right opportunity, they certainly can go."
Among those with at least 120 attempts, Beltran ranks first in Major League history with an 88.1 percent stolen-base success rate.