Terry Collins: Jason Bay will “absolutely” be a starter when he returns from DL

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Left field fill-in Kirk Nieuwenhuis has played so well that there’s been some speculation about Jason Bay returning from the disabled list as a part-time player, but Mets manager Terry Collins squashed that talk.

Collins told Anthony McCarron of the New York Daily News that Bay will “absolutely” be a starter once he’s healthy because “he didn’t come here to be an extra player.”

Bay hasn’t played since April 23 and isn’t yet close to returning from a fractured rib, so it’s a moot point for now and by the time he’s ready to return Nieuwenhuis may have come back down to earth somewhat anyway. So far he’s hitting .294 with a .370 on-base percentage in 35 games.

In fairness to Bay he was fairly productive in 15 games before the injury, posting a .776 OPS that nearly matches Nieuwenhuis’ mark of .782. And of course he’s making $16 million this season with another $16 million due in 2013.

Red Sox prospect involved in serious auto accident

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Via WEEI.com comes a report that Red Sox minor league pitcher Kevin Steen was critically injured in a car crash on Wednesday night near Fort Myers.

The driver of the other car involved in the accident was killed. Steen is in the hospital in critical condition. It appears as though the other driver veered off the road, overcorrected and then crossed the center line, crashing into Steen’s SUV.

Steen, 20, is a starting pitcher. He was a ninth round pick of the Red Sox in 2014 out of Oak Ridge High School in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. He’s played three seasons in the Sox season and was about to begin his fourth.

Noah Syndergaard scratched with a “tired arm”

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Mets manager Terry Collins says that he has scratched Noah Syndergaard, who was supposed to start this afternoon’s game against the Braves. In his place will go Matt Harvey.

Syndergaard, Collins says, has “tired arm.” But also says he has some discomfort in his right biceps. He will have an MRI, but Syndergaard says it’s not serious and that he could pitch as soon as Sunday. Collins says this is an abundance-of-caution type thing, saying “we can’t take a chance on this guy.” Which is true.

The Mets ace is 1-1 with a 1.73 ERA and 30 strikeouts in 26 innings. He has walked no one this year. Not a soul.