Jay Bruce is apparently serious about first base. And, we know the Mets are about him playing the position, otherwise, Peter Alonso would be with the team. Bruce has been in touch with former Cincinnati teammate Joey Votto, and he’s sought out the Giants’ Brandon Belt and Cubs’ Anthony Rizzo for tips on the position.
And, when the Mets return home he plans to talk with Keith Hernandez, a defensive wiz at the position.
`”If I am going to do this I want to be good at it, and I think I can be good at it,” Bruce said.
So far, the Mets are happy with what they’ve seen from Bruce, both on the field and with his effort in trying to learn the new position.
“I think he looks good,” manager Mickey Callaway said. “He is getting more and more comfortable over there the more games he plays. I think he is going to have the whole offseason to work at this if this is the route we are going to go, and [infield coach] Gary DiSarcina and myself feel like he can do the job at first base from what we have seen so far.”
Dominic Smith will rejoin the Mets this week, but the team has cooled on him after his poor performance in the second half. When Bruce was on the disabled list Wilmer Flores got the most time at first, and Callaway said he’ll see some time this month, but September is mostly for the Mets to get a feel for Bruce at the position.
Bruce is signed through 2020 and owed another $28 million after this season. Assuming Bruce works out at first base, the Mets anticipate Michael Conforto and Brandon Nimmo playing mostly in left and right field, respectively, with Austin Jackson getting a shot at center.
“Obviously [Bruce] is going to get more and more time over there and we are going to continue where he’s at,” Callaway said. “But he feels comfortable and the coaches like what they have seen so far, so we are definitely excited that he can be our first baseman next year.”
Bruce said he’s comfortable fielding the position, but he’s challenged by the positioning on bunts, relays and cutoffs.
”’I don’t think fielding the position is going to be an issue for me as far as straight-up ground balls,” Bruce said. ”I feel I can get off the bag far enough to have the range and stuff like that. But it’s going to be the nuances that are going to be the most important.”