Jay Bruce started and played all nine innings last night for the New York Mets at first base with both Lucas Duda and Wilmer Flores unavailable. It was the first time he played the position since July 11, 2014 and only the fourth in his Major League career.
The ball found Bruce right away with a double just out of his diving reach in the second inning off the bat of Tommy Joseph.
The next hitter, Freddy Galvis, hit a ground ball to Bruce (infield was playing in with runner on third) that he picked the short hop nicely on. Problem was that Noah Syndergaard was slow breaking to cover the first base bag and Neil Walker, to the surprise of Bruce, was already there.
Bruce did the right thing on the play and flipped the ball to first base where Syndergaard should have been, but the ball went in between him and Walker allowing Galvis to go to second base. Bruce make a nice stop and did everything right on the play although he was the one saddled with the error.
“Noah’s got to get over there,” Terry Collins said after the game. “Jay made a nice play on it. And when he turned, he didn’t think Noah could get there, so he tried to flip it to Walk and just got it too far in front of him.”
After the action in the second inning, Bruce only got one more ground ball, a ball of the bat of Odubel Herrera that he fielded cleanly and threw to second base to get the lead runner.
Bruce actually didn’t look that bad at first base, with okay footwork and going to get throws from the infielders, for someone with 26 career innings at the position.
With the uncertainty surrounding the returns of Duda and Flores, following the game Bruce said he expects to be back at first base for a few more games according to Mike Puma of The New York Post.
“What I found out is that fielding the ball was probably the easiest part of the whole thing,” Bruce said. “It’s the nuances of the game that you can’t really practice. I’m just going to have to continue to learn as I go and this is the epitome of learning on the job.”