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Jason Bay storms the Back Bay


For Jason Bay, it's been one wild ride. Traded from the cellar-dwelling Pittsburgh Pirates at the deadline and thrust into the middle of a heated playoff race has been exciting and energizing at the same time. The Red Sox left fielder is playing for the most popular team in baseball and that might not even be the biggest thrill in his life. He and his wife are expecting their second child in September -- just in time for the playoffs.

Bay took some time to talk about his new team, his first experience in a playoff race and his sister Laura, who is in China taking part in the Olympics.

Holden Kushner: Jason I imagine it's just been a whirlwind for you, a new team, a new city. Tell me the biggest adjustment you've had to make personally over the last few days

Jason Bay: The nice part is, it's still the game of baseball, and that's kind of been the one constant, coming from Pittsburgh which is a much different market than Boston, and just getting used to how to go about things here and the guys. Once the game starts it's been nice cause that's just baseball, I've been doing that for 20 years now, so it's just the stuff away from the field that takes some getting used to but it's been a pretty seamless transition.

HK: You talked about going about the ways of doing things. Is there a different way of doing things with the Red Sox?

JB: Not really, it's really the same, everyone has the same goals in mind. It's a little more hectic here as you can imagine, all for good reasons though. It's been a blast but just figuring out how you do this, or how do I do that, I don't want to step on anyone's toes. I've been in Pittsburgh for five years, so I have a pretty good understanding of the flights and all the little weird things but stuff that you take for granted, then you come to a new team and it's like, 'Oh, who's sitting where, what do I do here, what time are we stretching?' Just trying to find new routines.

HK: Who are some of the first players that greeted you after you were traded and took you under their wing or at least show you the ropes?

JB: There wasn't one or two guys in particular. I walked into the clubhouse and everyone came up and said, 'Oh, we're happy to have you,' and was very genuine. That's such a breath of fresh air. [Manager] Terry Francona had called me five minutes after I had talked to Theo Epstein, and just said, 'Hey any time you need anything.'

HK: The Red Sox fans, you're going to see a lot more Red Sox fans everywhere, including on the road like here in Baltimore. It's just got to be a different world for you, just being in Pittsburgh and not having that kind of following.

JB: The atmosphere is probably the biggest difference, especially going into a different team is different but coming to this team with the following that Red Sox nation has is, you're not really prepared for it until your part of it, that's for sure. Even here in Baltimore last night, it was almost like playing a home game. Red Sox fans travel unbelievable, it's invigorating and it's pretty refreshing to play in front of.

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HK: Only a select few get a chance to play in uniform for the Red Sox at Fenway Park. Can you describe the electricity of the crowds at Fenway Park?

JB: I'd been there as a visitor before and it pales in comparison to putting on a Red Sox uniform. Not that you need anymore incentive to play Major League Baseball, but the trade almost made me reenergized in a sense. The crowd, the pennant race and everything is crucial. These were feelings I hadn't ever experienced and they came together in a 12-hour period after the trade. It was a breath of fresh air and it was actually really nice.

HK: Talk to me about being thrust into your first-ever playoff race.

JB: That's why I was brought here. No one plays to be average. You play to win championships. I had a great time in Pittsburgh but for whatever reason it just didn't work out that way. I come here and there's no time to think very much. You just get out there and do your job. Everyone has the same goal in mind here and that's winning ballgames and more.

HK: Is there a different intensity level given that you're in your first playoff race?

JB: Yes. Every goal for every team is to win games. That's no different regardless of the team or the situation. Regardless of the situation that we're in here, every bunt, every stolen base has a little more importance to it. They're not preaching anything I haven't heard before. Because of the position we're in it means a lot more so the intensity picks up because of that.

HK: What is the one highlight that stands out to you in the first few weeks with this ballclub?

JB: The first day I got to Boston it was just a whirlwind. I got off the plane and went to the stadium. Press conference and this and that while trying to get my head on straight. Then the game started and I got a standing ovation my first at-bat and that was kind of flattering. My Welcome-to-Boston type moment. I hit a triple in extra innings and ended up scoring the winning run. It was just a perfect day.

HK: Your sister is a member of the Canadian softball team competing in the Olympics. How much have you gotten a chance to follow her and Team Canada?

JB: It hasn't been easy because they are on the exact opposite schedule and it's 12 hours ahead [In China]. I get up and check the box scores. [Canada lost to Australia in the first game of the medal round on Wednesday.] I've talked to her a few times and my parents are there. I talk to them. It's fun for me because I get so caught in your baseball life day-in and day-out and getting to the ballpark almost every day. So, for two weeks I get a chance to be a fan of something. I wake up and run to the computer. Get a chance to talk to her and it's nice to get a chance to step outside of baseball and be excited about it.

HK: Finally, I'm a fan of the Little League World Series and it's well underway right now. What do you remember from your experience on that team from Canada in 1990?

JB: The biggest thing is I was used to playing in front of moms and dads in front of 30 people and all of a sudden there's 10,000 people in a stadium. Being from a small town in Canada I was saying, 'This is the big leagues.' I was 11 and I was already into baseball at the time but that was what definitely piqued my interest. I felt that I could really do this and it had a huge part in being where I am today.