Though Bay has no aspirations of being the next Cal Ripken Jr., he does know what it feels like to go the distance of a baseball season. For the 2005 Pirates, Bay started all 162 games, belting 32 homers and driving in 101 runs.
When will Bay get his first day off of 2009?
"Next spring," quipped Red Sox manager Terry Francona. "We actually asked him the other day in Seattle if he wanted to DH, and he said no. He's not a big fan. He'd rather play. Then I asked him -- I said, 'Will you tell me if you're beat up,' and he said, 'No.'
"I kind of respect it on one hand. But there's certainly going to be a day where he gets a day [off]. There's times guys are banged up and they need it. He doesn't look to me right now like he needs it."
Bay has thrived since he joined the Red Sox last July 31. This season, he is hitting .294 with 11 homers and 40 RBIs.
Though Bay loves to be out there, he is wise enough to know at this stage of his career that playing all 162 games doesn't serve much of a purpose.
"I've done it before," said Bay. "It's not something that you get a plaque for at the end of the year. You'll get a little handshake and they'll say, 'Nice job,' and that was it. Like I said, I've done it. It's cool to say. But for everything that's relevant, especially for the playoffs and stuff, it's definitely important to get a day or two."
When will that day come?
"There will be a time where it will just kind of work out, but I'm not too worried about it," said Bay.
He still remembers some of the lengths he took to keep his streak alive in '05.
"There were a couple of days in particular," said Bay. "I got hit twice in the ribs in a game in New York, and we got swept. It was a night-game getaway and we took the train to Philadelphia, and I was positive I had a broken rib or two. I kind of went in there, and I had a huge bruise. Running, coughing, moving, my ribcage was killing me.
"This was like in August. I was like, man, 'I've come this far.' Basically they're like, 'It's up to you.' Well, I've come this far. I could get myself out there. I might not be very effective. So I basically put the equivalent of a flak jacket on. I wrapped myself in the tightest bandage possible and went out and got a couple of hits. In hindsight, I was like, 'That was stupid.' I should have taken a day or two, and that's something that now I know, having been there."
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.