Former hitting coach Howard Johnson says benching Jason Bay is “ridiculous”

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Jason Bay was back in the starting lineup tonight against the Pirates following a brief two-game absence. In fact, he snapped his career-worst 0-for-24 hitless streak with a bloop single in the fourth inning. But former Mets hitting coach Howard Johnson told the New York Post that the struggling outfielder shouldn’t have been benched in the first place.

“It’s ridiculous it’s come to that,” the former Mets hitting coach said by phone yesterday. “If he’s supposed to be part of the solution, I don’t see the point of taking him out of the equation. It’s sending him mixed messages. I don’t care if he’s 0-for-50, you’re not going to get him relaxed by taking him out of the lineup.”

I assume Charlie Samuels wasn’t available for comment. I mean, he spent plenty of time in the Mets’ clubhouse last season, too, right? Let’s hear what he has to say about it.

Naturally, Mets manager Terry Collins wasn’t thrilled with Johnson’s commentary. According to Adam Rubin of ESPN New York, he fired back before tonight’s game against the Pirates.

“As soon as I showed up at the ballpark today, I was slapped in the face with Howard Johnson telling us we should play him and not bench him,” Collins said. “I don’t really call it a benching. I would call it more of a time off kind of thing. The other thing, and I think the world of Howard Johnson, but he hasn’t got all the facts. So he should be careful what he actually says when he doesn’t have all the facts.”

It’s not clear what Collins is alluding to here, but he did say before tonight’s game that Bay is going to be his regular left fielder moving forward. It seems like Bay was likely OK with the idea of sitting down for a couple days. Of course, I can’t say that for sure, but I’m pretty sure that Howard Johnson can’t either. We’re both speculating, after all.

Ian Kinsler signs a two-year deal with the Padres

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Ken Rosenthal reports that Ian Kinsler is signing with the San Diego Padres on a two-year, $8 million deal.

A surprising multi-year deal for Kinsler, who will turn 37 next season, but it’s a pretty low financial outlay for the Padres. An understandably low one following a year in which Kinsler hit just .240/.301/.380 with 14 home runs and 16 stolen bases for the Angels and Red Sox. He can still pick it at the keystone, however, taking home Gold Glove honors there last season. He’ll turn 37 next June.

Kinsler will likely bump Luis Urias from second to short until top prospect Fernando Tatis, Jr. is called up to San Diego, at which point one presumes Urias will then, in turn, bump Kinsler off of second base into a bench role, at least if Urias performs. Given that Kinsler will not make much money on this deal, it’s not something the Padres are likely to sweat.