Francona, banged-up Indians eager to put Bruce in the lineup
ABS-CBN Sports on Aug 11, 2017 12:02 PM
FILE - In this Aug. 1, 2017, file photo, New York Mets' Jay Bruce watches his solo home run off Colorado Rockies relief pitcher Chris Rusin during a baseball game in Denver. The Cleveland Indians acquired Bruce from the Mets on Wednesday via trade. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski, File)
By Dick Scanlon, Associated Press
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — It didn't take Jay Bruce long to feel like a part of the Cleveland Indians.
The three-time NL All-Star shared the spring training complex in Goodyear, Arizona, with the Indians for several years when he was with the Reds.
"If I didn't know every one of them, it felt a lot like I did," said Bruce, who was acquired Wednesday night in trade with the New York Mets. "I'm excited about the opportunity. I just want to come in and be a part of this."
The 30-year-old Bruce arrived at Tropicana Field about an hour before Thursday night's game against the Rays. He popped up as a pinch hitter in the seventh inning, seeing only one pitch in his first game with an AL team.
"You can't ask for anything else, honestly, to come to a team of this caliber in the position they're in," Bruce said. "This team is awesome. They were awesome without me, and I hope to just add a little bit to it, not try to be Superman, not try to do anything other than what I can do and be myself.
"I think that's what they want and I look forward to helping us get deep, deep into the playoffs."
Even before Bruce played his first game for AL Central-leading Cleveland, manager Terry Francona said the slugger boosted his banged-up team.
"It gives you a little bounce in your step," Francona said before the game. "He is a really good run producer, and to add him to your lineup is really going to help."
Bruce hit 29 homers, tied for fourth-most in the NL, and drove in 75 runs for the Mets, playing the outfield and occasionally at first base. Francona said he wants to talk with the left-handed power hitter before making any long-term decisions, but he said Bruce will probably bat fifth on Friday night.
Outfielders Lonnie Chisenhall and Michael Brantley are on the disabled list, although Francona hopes to get Chisenhall back by next week.
"If it comes to the point where we have too many outfielders, good for us, because right now, we're playing two short," Francona said. "We've got a stretch of 22 games in a row, so to have that bat should help us."
Edwin Encarnacion is the Indians' home run leader with 22. The Indians have 131 homers and rank 10th in the league, the same position they finished last year before winning the pennant. The 2016 Indians were second in the league in runs, however, compared to seventh this year.
Francona said he hopes owner Paul Dolan gets credit for acquiring Bruce, whose contract expires at the end of this season.
"(Dolan) kind of took a big bite right there, and don't think we don't appreciate it because it's going to give us a better chance to win," Francona said.