CLEVELAND (92.3 the Fan) – It took Jay Bruce a little while to get up to speed in New York when he was traded from Cincinnati on August 1st of 2016. A year later, the 30-year old was dealt back to Ohio, and is having to slow down.
“A little different pace here in Cleveland as opposed to midtown Manhattan,” the recently acquired slugger said Monday. “But it’s a good pace.”
Having played his first 11 years professionally between Cincinnati and their farm system teams in Dayton, Louisville (KY), Chattanooga (TN), Sarasota (FL) and Billing (MT); the left-hander got a different look at things in his 373 days in the Big Apple.
“I kind of say once you get traded to New York, getting traded from New York is always easier,” Bruce joked. “Just from everything. From the city, from the media, from the logistics and everything like that. I really enjoyed it there, but it definitely made it easier this time going through that.”
Judging solely from his numbers, the adjustment to New York seemed like it may have complicated Bruce’s approach on the field. In his first 20 appearances with the Mets, the lefty turned in a 12-for-76 performance with 19 strikeouts.
Bruce eventually got on track, finishing his first tour of duty in New York with a .219/.294/.391 slash with eight home runs and five doubles over 50 games.
The Denton, Texas native wound up putting together a career-year in New York for his first 103 games in 2017, but the move to Cleveland has only helped matters thus far. Despite not playing a game at Progressive Field until Monday, Bruce had an OPS of 1.169 over the Indians’ 11-game road trip.
The newest member of the defending American League Champions said the success of the team has only made the move easier.
“I came to a group of guys and a team that was great before I got here,” he said. “That alone takes so much of the potential pressure off of you because you’re coming into a situation that was already awesome. For me to be able to kind of slide in and kind of just continue playing baseball the way I play it, preparing the way I prepare – one, it fits in perfectly with these guys so far is what it seems like.”
The unfortunate part about the move was that Bruce had just arrived in Philadelphia with the Mets upon hearing he had been traded, at which he was rerouted to Tampa for an epic of a road trip.
“Packed for four days, on the road for 11,” he laughed. “Recycled a lot of shirts and pants. But it’s all good here now.”
The Bruce family is settled into their new home, as the player’s wife Hannah and son Carter made, as well as Bruce’s mother-in-law packed belongings from New York immediately and got into town on Friday.
Bruce said he was glad to finally get back into town to see his family, as well as get into the routine that comes with being at home, albeit a little off-kilter for the time being.
He also returns to the park he now calls “home” while having had tremendous success within the confines of Progressive Field.
Despite playing in the National League for his entire career until August 9th, Bruce has played 23 games in Cleveland because of the Ohio Cup. In those games, he boasts a .384/.438/.593 split with a 1.031 OPS, all the highest marks at parks in which he has played 23 contests. Bruce also has four home runs and six doubles in that stretch.
The three-time All-Star says there is nothing specific about the park that has led him to look like Clark Kent over 23 games, but will try to continue to do what he does in the Forest City.
“I said it early on, I’m not trying to be Superman, I’m not trying to be anything other than myself, and I think that’s why the Indians traded for me,” Bruce said. “It’s been great so far, and like I said, there’s no pressure because this team was already doing what they were doing before.
“I’m just trying to add another piece to the puzzle.”
The soon-to-be free agent only had good things to say about Progressive Field, and may have just been speaking of the playoffs but also may have foreshadowed his next move.
“It’s a really nice stadium,” he said. “I’ve always enjoyed playing here and I look forward to playing a lot more games here.”