PITTSBURGH (AP) -Jason Bay normally takes off about one game a season. As he tries to fight out of the worst slump of his career, Bay was missing from the Pittsburgh Pirates' lineup Wednesday for the second time in five days.
Bay, one of the NL's most durable and consistent players and an NL starter in last season's All-Star game, has gone 15-for-106 since June 1 - dropping his average from .314 to .256. That's a 58-point drop for a player who hit .306 two seasons ago and began this season with a .286 career average. The slide includes 30 strikeouts.
Manager Jim Tracy sat down Bay again, even though the left fielder was the one Pirates regular with good career numbers against Milwaukee starter Claudio Vargas (6-for-11, 2 HRs). Tracy felt Bay would benefit most by resting, as he did Saturday against Washington.
``Jason's in a rut right now and you've got to take whatever steps you feel are necessary to try to get him some breathing room, get him an opportunity to get going again,'' Tracy said.
Bay, voted into last season's All-Star game in PNC Park by a groundswell of support from Pirates fans, likely would have been the club's All-Star representative again this season if the team had been chosen a couple of weeks earlier. However, his average has declined an average of 10 points a week over the last five weeks.
Bay is seeing the ball well and he insists he isn't struggling with his swing, but he keeps fouling off pitches he normally puts into play.
``When you get into a slide like he's been in, a lot of things happen that every hitter's gone through,'' Tracy said. ``You take the donut off your bat and before you even know you're into the box, it's strike two. That's where he's at right now.''
Tracy can only hope Bay responds to this day off better than he did last weekend. Bay is 0-for-12 since sitting down Saturday.
``I talked to him, and just basically talked about him doing what he wants to do,'' Tracy said. ``If you don't want to take batting practice, then don't do it. Take your day and do what you feel you want to do, whatever makes you the most comfortable.''

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