Pirates outfielder Jason Bay is being withheld from defensive play in early spring games after coming off knee surgery in November, but he remains a top 10 major league offensive force and should be absolutely 100 percent by opening day, if he is not already.
The 2004 Rookie of the Year hit .286 with 35 homers in 687 plate appearances last year, an astonishing number considering he was suffering from painful agitation behind the kneecap caused by excessive friction and tenderness between bone and cartilege.
Having diagnosed the condition as patella condromalicia, surgeons in a relatively unusual procedure entered the knee from behind to shave away the agitated material to promote regeneration with the objective of smoothing the buffer, according to knowlegeable observers familiar with Bay's condition.
Bay's incision has healed, but he is gradually restoring his durability after the post-op layoff. As a precaution he is being limited to playing designated hitter in the early days of camp.
Bay has been cleared to play and faces little or virtually no jeopardy of recurrence during the coming season. Should Bay suffer a relapse sometime in the more distant future, the procedure can be repeated.
Look for Bay to increase his statistical output in the coming season as he will be at full strength and will benefit from the addition of newly acquired first baseman Adam La Roche hitting behind him.