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.

Padres sign Jordan Lyles

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The Padres announced on Sunday that the club signed pitcher Jordan Lyles to a one-year major league contract with a club option for 2019. According to Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports, Lyles will earn $750,000 in 2018. Pitcher Travis Wood was designated for assignment to create room on the 40-man roster for Lyles.

Lyles, 27, had miserable results between the Rockies and Padres last season, compiling an aggregate 7.75 ERA with a 55/22 K/BB ratio over 69 2/3 innings. While he specifically gave up 24 earned runs in 23 innings across five starts with the Padres, it was a small sample. A full season at the pitcher-friendly Petco Park, as opposed to Colorado’s Coors Field, might help revitalize his career.

Wood, 30, went to the Padres at the non-waiver trade deadline from the Royals this past season. Overall, the lefty posted an aggregate 6.80 ERA with a 65/45 K/BB ratio in 94 innings. He’ll earn $6.5 million this season and has an $8 million mutual option with a $1 million buyout for 2019. So, the Padres are just eating $7.5 million minus the league minimum, assuming Wood latches on elsewhere.