All-Star Bay having a blast
Pirate to represent Canada at Derby, World Baseball Classic
DETROIT -- Just prior to meeting the media horde that has descended upon Detroit for the All-Star Game, Pirates outfielder Jason Bay sat in a waiting room, surrounded by many of the greatest players in the game.
As Bay took in the somewhat surrealistic scene, he couldn't help but marvel at how much his life had changed since being taken in the 22nd round by the Montreal Expos in 2000. In a blink of an eye, it seemed, Bay had gone from a marginal prospect who had been traded by three different teams to the defending National League Rookie of the Year and a first-time NL All-Star.
"It means the world for me to be here," said Bay. "From where I came from, being traded three times, it means a lot to me to have things happen as fast as they have.
"I'm still pinching myself. I am very grateful of the way things have gone."
As a first-time All-Star, Bay was initially nervous about being accepted by his NL teammates. However, those concerns were quickly put to rest.
"It's amazing how everybody has been. It's a breath of fresh air," said Bay. "I know some of the younger guys. But all of the older guys came up and congratulated me. That means a lot. I really appreciate it.
It promises to be a whirlwind couple of days for the Bucs left fielder.
Bay, a native of Canada, met with media from around the globe Monday morning to discuss the World Baseball Classic. The 16-nation tournament, which is set to take place next March, will feature the best players in the world competing for their home countries for the first time.
While Bay understands that Canada will be an underdog in a pool that includes the United States, Mexico and South Africa, he thinks his country is capable of pulling off a major upset.
"We might not have the depth a lot of teams have," said Bay. "But that's the beauty of this tournament. You don't have to beat the U.S., Mexico or the Dominican nine out of 10 times to qualify. You have to beat them once or twice. You get a little bit of luck and then all of a sudden you move on. With the starters we could field, I think we could have a shot."
Bay, representing Canada, will be on center stage Monday night as one of eight participants in the Century 21 Home Run Derby.
"I'm not putting any more pressure on myself. I'm a very proud Canadian, and hopefully things go well," said Bay.
"There's always a little bit more at stake when you represent your country. But that's not going to change anything I do. Whether I was representing just myself or Pittsburgh or Canada, it's the same game plan."
Bay received a few tips from Pirates head athletic trainer Brad Henderson, who has previous All-Star Game experience, on how to approach the Home Run Derby. But Bay admits that he doesn't have much of a plan other than to try to pull every pitch down the left-field line.
"I have no strategy whatsoever. I have few hours to figure it out," Bay joked. "I only have 10 outs so I have to learn on the fly. But I think it will be fun."
Regardless of how he finishes in the Derby or how much he plays Tuesday night in the main event, Bay has already taken a lot from his first All-Star experience.
"Being here for the first time in this All-Star atmosphere, I'm just trying to soak it all up right now," said Bay.
"I haven't gone to the field yet, and I'm already having fun. It's been a blast, so far."
Ed Eagle is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.