Jay Bruce said he would be surprised if he plays first base during the regular season, he told Mike Puma of the NY Post.
"I don't even think about it," Bruce said.
Bruce's thoughts don't really jive with reality, though, especially considering Mets GM Sandy Alderson's comments last Friday that Bruce could play first base on a "reasonably every day basis" if it's what the team needed.
Alderson added that Bruce has demonstrated his skill at the postion in the past, which is why the team didn't feel the need to give him reps there this spring. He also didn't want the media to roll with the story that Bruce could be the team's first baseman.
Adrian Gonzalez, who agreed to a minor league deal during the offseason, struggled during Spring Training, hitting .207 with a .270 OBP and one home run. Meanwhile, Dominic Smith -- who was earmarked for Triple-A before Spring Training began -- is still dealing with a quad injury.
Bruce played 12 games at first base last season, 10 of which were starts. Before that, his only experience at first base came in three games with the Reds in 2014.
Danny Abriano, SNY.tv | Twitter |
Bruce may not be thinking about playing first base, but he should be.
Wilmer Flores will likely start at first base against left-handers, and Mets manager Mickey Callaway said he might even eat into Gonzalez's playing time against right-handers. But if Gonzalez's struggles carry over to the regular season, the Mets will have to explore the idea of using Bruce at first base on a somewhat regular basis.
Even if Gonzalez performs well, an outfield logjam could result in Bruce winding up at first base. Michael Conforto is ahead of schedule as he works his way back from shoulder surgery, and his presence will give the Mets four starting-caliber outfielders -- himself, Bruce, Brandon Nimmo, and Yoenis Cespedes.
Unless Gonzalez finds the fountain of youth, the Mets' best team has Conforto, Bruce, Nimmo, and Cespedes in the lineup at the same time. And the only way to achieve that is by putting Bruce at first base.
So, even if Bruce isn't thinking about first base right now, he should keep his first baseman's glove nearby and be prepared to shift there.