Jay Bruce not bummed out by brief benching

If you took one look at Jay Bruce coming off the field after New York Mets batting practice on Saturday, you would have never known he was hitting .160 since his acquisition from the Reds.

A day after going 0-for-4 with four strikeouts (his first four-strikeout game in nearly a year), Bruce was given a day off by Mets manager Terry Collins. The Mets went with Alejandro de Aza in center and Curtis Granderson in right with right-hander Jeremy Hellickson starting for the Phillies (against whom Bruce is 1-for-8). Bruce left a game earlier this week with a calf cramp, but Collins indicated the day off was for a mental rest rather than a physical one.

"I think it's human nature (to try to impress your new team)," said Collins. "I don't know one player who didn't instantly want to make an impact."

Bruce's impact has been minimal. He has two home runs and six RBIs in 81 at-bats with the Mets. He was leading the NL with 80 RBIs when he was traded by the Reds.

Nonetheless, Bruce smiled and was affable throughout a chat with a couple of reporters in the Mets' dugout.

"It looks like I've been moving away from the plate," said Bruce, who arrived at the ballpark early for extra work. "So many small things like that happen. That's baseball. I don't think I forgot how to hit. I do a lot of my damage middle-away, and I've gotten away from that."

Bruce is accurate in that regard. He had 30 extra-base hits against the 947 outside pitches (defined as "outer-half of the plate or off the outside corner") he saw with the Reds (a rate of one for every 32 pitches seen). He has the two home runs and no other extra-base hits on the 236 outside pitches he has seen with the Mets.

Bruce heard boos after each of his strikeouts, but was not bothered. He has been through this sort of thing before.

"Everyone knows what kind of player I am," Bruce said.

If there was any sense of annoyance it was in his lack of performance, as he noted, no one is harder on him than he is.

"I'm frustrated that I haven't contributed," Bruce said. "I'm not frustrated by how people perceive me."