Notes: Bay out to prove himself

Notes: Bay out to prove himself

PITTSBURGH -- From Pat Listach, Jerome Walton and Marty Cordova to Bob Hamelin and Joe Charboneau, there have been no shortage of players whose star power fizzled after they won the Rookie of the Year Award.

Pirates left fielder Jason Bay, the reigning NL Rookie of the Year, is out to prove that he is no flash in the pan. He'd love to get rid of the old "sophomore slump" theory altogether.

"I've never been concerned that a jinx was going to get me or anything like that," said Bay. "It's really up to me and how I'm playing. I think people make it a bigger deal than it really is.

"It's a lot easier to pick out the first-year guy who does well and when he doesn't the next year, they nail [the sophomore slump] on the head as the reason."

While only the most mystical of players would believe in actual jinxes, it has been commonly accepted in baseball circles that a player's production will decline as the league adjusts to their talents. Bay isn't buying this theory behind the sophomore slump either.

"There is a little bit of an adjustment. But some time during that good [rookie] year teams are going to adjust," said Bay. "I'm getting pretty much what I got the last two months of last year. I'm not sneaking up on anybody any more."

Despite his recent 1-for-17 slide at the plate, Bay entered action Saturday hitting .284 with eight home runs and 20 RBIs -- numbers on par with his breakout rookie campaign.

According to Bay, the biggest adjustment he has had to make since last season is dealing with the additional attention from the media.

"We're a team that doesn't have two or three big names," said Bay. "By default, with the year, I had last year I guess, I am one of those guys now.

"I've always been an under-the-radar guy before. It's always been easy for me to go unnoticed and do my thing, and I was very happy with that. Not that I'm unhappy with the little bit of spotlight that I have, it's just taking a little bit of getting used to."

Pirates manager Lloyd McClendon believes that the ease with which Bay has adjusted to the spotlight is a positive sign that the outfielder won't fall prey to some of the pressures that hampered past Rookie of the Year winners.

"For a Rookie of the Year, he's certainly mature beyond his age," said McClendon. "He really handled things and kept things in perspective and he continues to do that.

"He's going have his struggles from time-to-time. He's in a little rut right now. But with his knowledge of the strike zone, ability to hit the fastball and lay off bad pitches, I think he's going to be fine. I don't think he's going to have that 'sophomore jinx.'"

Tike heating up: No player looks forward to waking up on May 21 with a .208 batting average. But considering how far Tike Redman has had to go just to get to that point, it's not surprising that he had a little extra bounce in his step Saturday.

Redman has gone 9-for-19 during his current five-game hitting streak to pull his average up from .129. Four of those hits came in the Bucs' 9-4 win Friday night.

"I think [Friday's game] will just do a world of good for [Redman's] confidence and lift that burden off of his shoulders," said McClendon. "Hopefully he can relax now and go out and swing the bat the way we all know he is capable."

Redman downplayed the importance of the big game to his psyche.

"It's a long season and I've got to keep going," said Redman. " I can't [celebrate] one game. I've got to stay consistent with my at-bats. We've got four more months to the season. I'm not worried about last night anymore. It's over."

Physically, however, Redman was already noticing changes to his body after running the bases so often the night before.

"My legs are a little sore from running," Redman said, smiling. "That's a good soreness. I'd love to have that every day."

Wilson healing: Craig Wilson, who underwent surgery earlier this month to repair torn tissue in the middle finger of his left hand, will visit team doctors Monday to have the bandages removed from his injured hand. Upon removal of the bandaging, the surgically repaired finger will be placed in a splint.

Although Wilson is champing at the bit to get back on the field, he understands that he must remain patient. Wilson will likely have to watch from the sidelines for at least another six weeks.

"We don't want to re-tear what was already fixed. We have to make sure we give it the proper healing time," said Wilson. "The worse thing that you can do is come back to early and re-injure it."

Wilson remains a constant presence in the PNC Park clubhouse when the team is in Pittsburgh, and he watches broadcasts of the games when Pirates are on the road. He's even offered advice to teammates after watching them on television.

"If I see anything glaring with the way the pitchers are pitching to them I can give them a call," said Wilson. "I did drop Bobby Hill a text message on the last road trip."

On deck: The Pirates will wrap up their eight-game homestand Sunday afternoon against the Rockies. Pirates right-hander Josh Fogg (3-2, 3.77), who has gone 2-0 with a 2.18 ERA in his last three starts, will face Colorado southpaw Joe Kennedy (2-4, 7.51).

Ed Eagle is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.