Indians’ Jay Bruce makes debut in home ballpark
CLEVELAND (AP) Jay Bruce is ready to show his new home fans what he can do. His numbers so far with the Indians have already made him a big hit.
Bruce, acquired from the New York Mets on Aug. 9, made his Progressive Field debut Monday night against Boston. The Indians began an 11-game road trip the day following the trade. Bruce hit .375 with three homers and 12 RBIs as Cleveland went 8-3.
”You kind of forget this is his first game here because he’s been with us so long,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. ”That was a long road trip.”
The Mets were in Philadelphia when the trade was announced. He joined his new teammates the next day in Tampa, and the trip continued to Boston, Minnesota and Kansas City.
”Packed for four days, on the road for 11, recycled a lot of shirts and pants, but it’s all good,” Bruce said.
Bruce was given a loud ovation when he came to bat in the second inning. He lined a single to right off Eduardo Rodriguez, extending his hitting streak to 11 games and producing the first chant of ”Bruuuce” from Cleveland fans.
Before the game, Bruce said he was happy to finally set foot in his new ballpark, where he hit .384 (33 for 86) with four homers and 12 RBIs in 23 previous games.
”It feels great, it really does,” he said. ”Even though you spend essentially the same time on the road that you do at home, it’s a place to get into a routine. I am comfortable here and I do have some at-bats here.”
Bruce said his wife and son took the train from Philadelphia to New York following the trade. Some personal belongings were shipped to Cleveland, and the family arrived in town before he did.
”They got here Friday,” Bruce said. ”They got settled in. A little different pace here in Cleveland as opposed to midtown Manhattan, but it’s a good pace.”
Cleveland traded for Bruce the day All-Star outfielder Michael Brantley went on the disabled list with a sprained right ankle for the second time this season. Outfielder Lonnie Chisenhall has been on the DL since the All-Star break with a strained right calf.
The Indians agreed to pick up the remainder of Bruce’s $13 million contract – about $4.2 million – as they try to make a return trip to the World Series. Cleveland sent minor league pitcher Ryder Ryan to the Mets.
”I came to a team that was great before I got here,” Bruce said. ”That alone takes so much of the potential pressure off you because you’re coming into a situation that was already awesome.”
Bruce, 30, is in the final year of a contract he signed with Cincinnati. The Indians likely will be one of the teams interested in signing the left-handed slugger to a long-term deal.
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