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Q&A with Mets outfielder Jay Bruce

NY Mets outfielder Bruce Jay, Wednesday Feb. 21,

NY Mets outfielder Bruce Jay, Wednesday Feb. 21, 2018 during photo day at Port St. Lucie, FL. Credit: Newsday / Alejandra Villa

Last August the Mets traded Jay Bruce to the Indians, and he helped them win a division title and a gain playoff berth. Bruce returned to the Mets in January when he agreed to a three-year, $39-million free agent contract. The rightfielder talked about everything from his early days as a player to what he does — and does not — want to do after his career.

Q: When as a youth did you first know you would be able to become a professional baseball player?

A: I always wanted to be. I think everyone always says, ‘I want to be a major league baseball player when I grow up.’ I think it started being more of a reality in high school. I saw myself continuing to separate — not separate — continue to develop. The game came a little easier to me than most guys I played with. I felt like, ‘I’ve got a chance to play professional baseball.’ Really, my goal going into high school was to get a scholarship to go to college. After my sophomore year, I played in a couple big tournaments and I did well and scouts started to show up. That’s when I started to show up on the radar.

Q: What was your first experience like when you signed and went to the minors?

A: I had never lived on my own. I had never washed my own clothes. I think what I didn’t know mostly was the different cultures that are in baseball. You always knew that there were Latin-American players, but I didn’t realize the volume of the Latin-American players, especially at the lower levels of the minor leagues. So for me that was a lot of fun. A kid from southeast Texas, I had never really experienced it. You see some Spanish speakers, but to be integrated into largely a different culture day in and day out was something I really enjoyed. I was this white kid from Texas. I think that getting into pro ball, I felt like I figured out pretty quickly that the better I could integrate myself into their culture, the better off I’d be because I felt like that sometimes there tends to be like this imaginary wall and I wanted to make sure that was never a thing for me because I planned to be around a long time.

Q: How have your moments of failure helped you?

A: I never really failed until I got to the big leagues, which is probably not the best. I think that guys having to deal with some adversity on the way up is helpful. My second year, 2009, I was hitting .207 at the All-Star break. I just could not get it going. Two days before the All-Star break, I broke my wrist at Citi Field. David Wright fly ball. Slid for it. Broke it. Probably one of the best things that ever happened to me, to be honest with you. I got to take a step back a little bit, change a few things in my swing and I came back in September and had a good September and kind of took off from there.

Q: You’re pretty good with the media. Do you see yourself becoming an announcer after your playing days?

A: No. Absolutely not. Never say never, but in all honesty, I could not have less interest as it stands right now. There’s not something I’m interested in less. When I’m done, in a lot of ways I want my career, my baseball legacy — it’s not really a legacy — I want it to just be something I did. Just to have it have been part of my life and then move on because there are a lot of other things I’m passionate about and will be passionate about when I’m done playing. At the top of that list will be being a husband, being a father, being a son, being a friend.

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