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Jason Lee "Jay" Payton (born November 22 1972 in Zanesville, Ohio) is an outfielder in Major League Baseball, who currently plays for the Baltimore Orioles. He has played for the New York Mets (1998-2002), Colorado Rockies (2002-03), San Diego Padres (2004), Boston Red Sox (2005) and Oakland Athletics (2005-2006). He bats and throws right-handed. Payton is an opposite-field hitter with some power. As a runner, he has decent instincts but he is not a base stealer. Defensively, he is a solid outfielder with an average arm, although his quickness getting rid of the ball helps him hold baserunners on the base paths. He can play all three positions in the outfield. Jay lives in North Carolina during the off season and has a son named Preston who was born in July 2004.
Selected by the Mets in the first round (29th pick) of the 1994 amateur draft, Payton hadn't fulfilled the great expectations he projected in Georgia Tech when he rated ahead of his teammates Nomar Garciaparra and Jason Varitek. He debuted in 1998, and after ankle, foot and back injuries in three of his first four seasons, he eventually had to alter his hitting style. With limited duty in 2001, the Mets finally gave up on him and was traded to the Rockies during the 2002 season.
In 2003, Payton enjoyed his most productive season with career highs in home runs (28), RBI (89), runs (93), hits (181), doubles (32), on base percentage (.354), slugging average (.512), at bats (600) and games played (157), and added a respectable .302 batting average. He was signed by San Diego as a free agent at the end of the season. What the Padres liked best was that he hit 15 of his 28 home runs away from Coors Field's thin air. But Payton had a subpar 2004 season batting .260 with eight homers and 55 RBI in 143 games. In December, he was sent to Boston for Dave Roberts and took over Roberts' role as the team's fourth outfielder.
Payton was designated for assignment by the Red Sox on July 7, 2005, after being publicly disgruntled over his lack of playing time. On July 13, he was traded to the Oakland Athletics for pitcher Chad Bradford. Payton hit a home run on the first pitch in his first at bat for his new club, and earned a cult status for a brief period after winning many games for the A's with an otherwise struggling offense. In 2006, Payton played regularly in the outfield for the Athletics while batting .296 with 10 home runs and 59 RBIs. On July 3, 2006, he hit his 100th career home run. On December 8, Payton agreed to terms on a two-year, $9.75 million contract with the Baltimore Orioles.