PHILADELPHIA — In less than three years, Jay Bruce has become something of an expert at changing teams — from the Reds to the Mets to the Indians to the Mets again to the Mariners to the Phillies.
So even though that most recent change, a trade from Seattle to Philadelphia early this month, means he’ll be facing another one of his former clubs, the Mets, frequently including this week, he says that doesn’t give him any emotional or motivational juice.
“I don’t feel like it’s that super weird. It’s not like I had my whole career over there,” Bruce said. “When I left the Reds, it was a lot. But I understood what I was getting myself into moving forward when it came to teams and signing contracts. You’re kind of always on the trade block if the team is not in contention. If they feel like they can better utilize your resources somewhere else, they’re going to probably try and do it.”
Far from his best last season, when he was mostly injured or ineffective or both until late August, Bruce was part of the Mets’ Edwin Diaz/Robinson Cano trade last winter. He said general manager Brodie Van Wagenen was “very straightforward and honest” about his intentions with Bruce, which he appreciated, and Bruce understands where the Mets were coming from in moving on.
“At the end of the day, they thought they were getting better. I respect that,” Bruce said. “From the moment I ever got traded for the first time, I said, a team would be doing themselves an injustice if they aren’t always looking for a way to improve.”
Bruce called his bad 2018 “a tough pill for me to swallow, because I didn’t put the best foot forward.”
“It wasn’t due to a lack of ability. It was health,” said Bruce, who dealt with hip, back and foot issues. “I knew it was health the whole time. I don’t know if they did or not, but that’s not for me to concern myself with. But I totally respect what they were trying to do and they felt like they needed to shake it up.”
He has excelled since joining the Phillies, slashing .288/.317/.678 with seven homers and 18 RBIs. Even though the Phillies have struggled of late — their win against the Mets Monday snapped a seven-game losing streak — this most recent trade is satisfying because of the standing.
“My biggest goal in this whole thing is playing meaningful baseball,” Bruce said.
Meanwhile, the Mets’ offseason plan that included dumping Bruce hasn’t yielded the contender they thought it would.
“It hasn’t gone how they wanted,” Bruce said. “Wish them they best when they leave here because, you know, obviously we need to win games as much as anybody.”
Justin Wilson (left elbow soreness) threw his first bullpen session Tuesday since a setback in his recovery last week. He expects to throw at least one more side session in a couple of days before heading out on another rehab assignment . . . Mickey Callaway indicated he is comfortable having no lefthanders in the bullpen: “At this moment, we have the best pitchers in our organization up here.” . . . First-rounder Brett Baty made his professional debut with the rookie-level Gulf Coast League Mets on Tuesday. The third baseman went 1-for-4 with a double, a run, a walk and a strikeout. The Mets plan to keep Baty there for at least a couple of weeks, but might move him up a level later in the summer . . . The Mets announced the signings of two more draftees, including fourth-round outfielder Jake Mangum, bringing their total to 25 of 40 picks.