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Ex-Met Jay Bruce haunts former team with 3-homer weekend

Phillies' Jay Bruce watches the flight of his

Phillies' Jay Bruce watches the flight of his eighth-inning home run against the Mets at Citi Field on Sunday. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

Jay Bruce insists there are no hard feelings between him and the Mets. The three baseballs he crushed for home runs this weekend might say otherwise.

Mets general manager Brodie Van Wagenen sent Bruce to the Mariners for Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz during the offseason, a trade that has been a disappointment for the Mets. Bruce now is with the Phillies, and he tortured the Mets in their weekend series, going 5-for-13 with three homers and seven RBIs.

His two-homer, four-RBI outing Sunday helped the Phillies earn an 8-3 win at Citi Field. On Friday, Bruce had a key ninth-inning hit against Diaz in yet another bullpen meltdown that led to Van Wagenen’s postgame tirade against his coaching staff.

“I think people — and when I say people, I mean [the media] — tend to want to sensationalize this whole thing, and I refuse to,” Bruce said. “There’s no hard feelings. They’re in our division and we want to beat them.”

The 32-year-old outfielder hit 14 home runs in 47 games for the Mariners before the Phillies acquired him on June 2 after Andrew McCutchen’s season-ending ACL injury. Bruce has been on a tear for them, with 10 homers and 29 RBIs in 28 games. He has 24 homers, 12 shy of his career high, and 57 RBIs.

Bruce hit nine homers in 94 games for the Mets in an injury-plagued 2018. “I’m not surprised by what I’m doing by any means,” he said. “They wanted to move on, and I’m part of the Phillies now and we played good baseball this weekend.”

Often lauded for his professionalism, Bruce already has made an impact on some of the Phillies’ young talent. Aaron Nola, who pitched 6 2⁄3 mostly dominant innings Sunday, said Bruce has impressed him.

“Huge addition to our team,” Nola said. “It’s tough to see Cutch go down. He’s a big part of our team, big part of our clubhouse, brought the energy every day. But Bruce, he’s fit in really well. He’s a great guy, perfect for our team, and he rakes. He’s an all-around good player. He’s always positive. Veteran guy like that around our young guys is good to be around.”

Manager Gabe Kapler had the same take. “Jay has come up with some huge hits for us, especially clutch,” he said. “Great teammate. Performer on the field and in the clubhouse. Can’t say enough good things about Jay Bruce right now.”

The Mets also traded Bruce to the Indians in August 2017 in the midst of a lost season, but he insists he holds nothing against them. When asked if he thinks the Mets regretted trading him a second time, he said, “I have no idea, man. No idea.

“I think like everything else these days, they do a ton of due diligence and fact-finding, and I feel like they probably worked on it for a long time and decided that was the move they wanted to make. I totally respect that. You’d have to go ask Brodie. I don’t know.”

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