The reception was cordial and polite – reserved actually, as if the crowd was guarded about their expectations – when Jay Bruce went to the plate for the first time Tuesday night in a Mets uniform. You might even say it was business as usual, because after all, the trade that brought him to New York from Cincinnati has been brewing for a long time.
“I feel like I’ve been getting traded to the Mets for over a year now,” Bruce told reporters in his introductory press conference prior to Tuesday’s 7-1 victory over the Yankees. “You never know what’s going to happen until it actually happens. Last year there was some crazy stuff during the deadline. I try not to jump to conclusions or assume anything. So I waited until I got the call.
“And when it happened, I was very, very excited.”
Bruce joins the Mets as the NL leader in RBI with 80 built on a .360 average with RISP. Conversely, the Mets are last in the majors with a .205 average with RISP. Bruce had an uneventful 0-for-4 as he flied out to left in the first; grounded out to first in the fourth; and struck out looking in the sixth and seventh.
It might have been jitters, but no worries on the night. The trade was the right move and the Mets will be beneficiaries soon enough.
“I know he was nervous, even though he’s an established star in the big leagues and is trying to fit in,” manager Terry Collins said.
As expected, Bruce’s first game was the primary storyline. Here are the other two.
DE AZA SHOULD GET SHOT IN CENTER: When the Mets signed Alejandro De Aza – prior to signing Yoenis Cespedes – they did so with the intent of platooning him with Juan Lagares. But, with Lagares on the DL – where Cespedes should be – why are the Mets still in a funk about who can play center field?
After a slow start and was on the brink of being released, De Aza started getting more playing time and since July is batting .342, including a two-run homer Tuesday night.
“I just want to keep working and help the team win,” De Aza said. “I’ve been working hard in the cages to shorten up my swing.”
THE MYSTERIOUS MIND OF COLLINS: Jacob deGrom was superb, but what I will take out of this game most – outside of Bruce’s debut – was Collins’ decision to pinch-hit Cespedes for De Aza in the seventh.
The Mets were up by five at the time, so why bat for the player who homered and is your best defensive center fielder? Cespedes’ RBI infield single was a moot point and foolish risk.
“I just wanted to get him an at-bat,” said Collins, as if Cespedes would forget how to hit before starting as the DH Wednesday at Yankee Stadium.
“I felt a little discomfort running down the line,” Cespedes said. “But once I got back in the dugout it felt better.”
No, Cespedes didn’t get hurt, but what if he reinjured his strained quad? Why take that chance with the game seemingly out of reach?
Sometimes, Collins makes me scratch my head and wonder. Other times he makes my want to throw a shoe at the TV.
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