After a couple of frustrating seasons, Jay Bruce rebounded in 2016, fueled by his lowest strikeout rate since his 2009 sophomore campaign. His power stroke returned with 33 homers, the second-highest total of his career. The veteran's tenure in Cincinnati ended when the Reds shipped Bruce to the Mets at the trade deadline. As he's done throughout his career, Bruce struggled versus lefties though not as much as usual, recording a .678 OPS. Still, he's a candidate to lose playing time against southpaws. Further, Bruce frequently faces defensive shifts and his batting average suffers as a result. His .250 average was buoyed by a jump in line drives and hard-hit percent along with more homers, but be wary of a repeat as a lot must go right again, including maintaining his improved contact rate. Bruce's power looks bankable, just be ready to buffer a likely dip in average.
Bruce (hip) will play right field and bat sixth in the order in Wednesday's Grapefruit League game against the Marlins, MLB.com's Anthony DiComo reports. Bruce experienced some stiffness in his right hip prior to Sunday's game and was held out the last two days, which provided sufficient time off for him to recover. He'll take back his usual spot in right field, which suggests the Mets aren't concerned about the hip injury affecting his mobility.
Bruce (hip) will likely return to the lineup Wednesday, Newsday reports. The Mets play a road game Monday, which requires a bus trip, then have an off day Tuesday, so Bruce will get some time to rest up. The veteran outfielder suggested the extra work he's been getting at first base could be the cause of the stiffness in his right hip, but neither he nor the team seems to view it as anything serious.
Bruce was scratched from Sunday's Grapefruit League game against the Marlins due to a tight right hip, Kristie Ackert of the New York Daily News reports. This is the first news of Bruce dealing with hip discomfort this spring, so it appears that his scratch is just precautionary. He's considered day-to-day for now.
Bruce didn't look out of place defensively at first base Tuesday, and will play at least one more game at the position this spring, The New York Daily News reports. "No one got hurt, so that's a good start. It was fine," Bruce said with a laugh following the game. "I was happy to pick that ball, the ball I got thrown to me, that was good. I need to get the ball to Jake (deGrom) a little quicker [on an underhand throw to first after fielding a grounder]. Overall, I felt comfortable. It's definitely faster and, you know, it's different, but it was fun." The Mets were hit hard by injuries last year, and in response seem intent on setting up contingency plans wherever they can for 2017. The 29-year-old may not see any game action at all at first base during the regular season if Lucas Duda stays healthy, but if Duda's back becomes an issue again, Bruce could pick up some extra position eligibility to go along with the extra at-bats.
Bruce is getting a start at first base Tuesday, Newsday's Marc Carig reports. This was anticipated when Lucas Duda was dealing with a back injury, but now that Duda is supposedly back to full health, it comes as something of a surprise that Bruce would still get action at first base. Of course, the Mets have five MLB-caliber outfielders for three spots, so they will have to get creative in order to get everyone semi-regular action. It's possible that Bruce will add first base eligibility in leagues with more liberal position-eligibility guidelines.