The moment Yoenis Cespedes re-signed with the Mets, no one expected Jay Bruce to be back with the club this season.
However, with a soft market for outfielders this past off-season, the Mets wisely kept Bruce and his $13 million option, giving him the right field job and hoping the two month slump he endured last season was just an aberration.
And there he was in Port St. Lucie yesterday ready to turn the page and hoping this season the Mets will see the real Jay Bruce.
“I’m not surprised by anything at this point,” Bruce said to reporters down in Port St. Lucie. “I keep a pretty level head about whatever happens. Obviously, they traded for me and they feel like they probably gave up some quality prospects. I don’t believe they were going to let five or six weeks or whatever completely determine my fate with the organization.”
Keeping Bruce was a smart move. These are the Mets, you know, so they should deal with injuries this coming season. Having a former All-Star in right field and Michael Conforto waiting in the wings will ease the pain if say, Curtis Granderson goes down with an injury or Bruce could play first base if the Mets Lucas Duda goes down with an injury.
In fact, with a lineup filled with brittle players, both Bruce and Conforto will get plenty of time in the field this season.
“I haven’t been told anything about that yet,” Bruce said to reporters. “I’ve obviously just seen it reported. I played first base in high school. I’ve played three games at first base with the Reds. Almost done no work at first base. But that’s something Terry and I can definitely talk about. At the end of the day, I’m an employee of the New York Mets, so if they want me to do it, I’ll bust my [rear-end] to make sure that I do what I can.”
Of course, Bruce can still be traded. Some club may suffer a catastrophic injury and the Mets have a surplus of outfielders. Or they can wait and trade Bruce at the deadline.
So, there are options, but all Bruce knows he’s working in Flushing right now.
“No one really knows how long they’ll be here,” he said. “Obviously, a few guys do, I guess. You can get traded at any time. Obviously, I’ve been traded once and gone through that. It is part of the game and it’s part of the business and I know that every team is trying to do whatever they can to make themselves better, so we’ll see. I’m definitely not concerning myself with it.
“I refuse to be a distraction in the clubhouse. That’s definitely not going to happen. Honestly, the only thing that’s happened is there’s been rumors. I’m here and I’m happy to be here. I’ll be here until I’m not.”
Right now, he is. In right field or at first base, Bruce will be ready and hopefully, he will wash the stain of 2016 away and become the player in Queens the Mets traded for at the deadline.
And show that trade was the right move, as was the decision to keep him this past off-season