Question: How much of a difference is it going to make that you’re starting here from the very beginning this season?
Bruce: “Any time you start from the beginning of something, you get a chance to get a little more comfortable, a little more settled in. And it’s a little more business as usual.’’
Q: What do you think the fans have wrong about you as a player?
Bruce: “I don’t really know truly what their perception is. If they take the [bad] month that I had last year and blanket it over me as a player, then they’re obviously going to be absurdly wrong. I’ve had a lot of success in my career, I’ve had some down years as well. But I’ve made three All-Star teams, won two Silver Sluggers, finished second in the Gold Glove twice.
Q: I imagine you believe that applies to defense as well?
Bruce: “Kind of generally, I think what people have most wrong about me is that I’m a bad defender. In 2014, I had knee surgery, which affected me. And also playing in Cincinnati and having someone like Billy Hamilton playing centerfield, I didn’t have as much opportunity to show my range and my ability in the outfield. I think when I came over to the Mets last year, I played a positive defense . . . I think [metrics] defensively are a little bit more ambiguous, a little more opinionated, subjective. I think people are going to see this year that I’m going to add value defensively.”
Q: What are the shortcomings to you in defensive metrics as they are now?
Bruce: “I think the subjectivity to it is very, very high right now. Somebody’s sitting there saying, ‘Well, I think he should get to this ball because someone else got to this ball.’ But they don’t take into consideration the weather, the pitcher that’s pitching, the positioning, who hit the ball and how it was hit. There’s so many things that are not black and white. I think that Trackman or whatever it’s called is going to take care of a lot of that.’’
Q: Some players would run the other direction with numbers. They just don’t care to see them. Why do you think they help you?
Bruce: “I think that they can help you if you don’t allow them to completely create the narrative. You can take a lot of these numbers and create whatever you want. I believe in determining the type of player that you are, knowing that and improving it. I think there are a lot of tools that allow you to do that, from video, to metrics, just stats, to feel, what you see. There are a lot of different things. The metrics and the numbers are just another tool that’s available to you as a player that you can take with however big a grain of salt as you want. I think that’s for everyone else to find out for themselves. I definitely don’t live and die by it, but I would like to be privy to all information. Whether I agree with it or not or feel that I can use it, it’s up to me.’’
Sign up for Newsday’s Mets Messages for updates directly to your phone via text, free with a Newsday digital subscription. Learn more at newsday.com/metstext.