SAN DIEGO — The newest Phillie is ... well, the smile on Jay Bruce’s face said it all.
“I’m so happy to be here, man,” Bruce said upon joining the Phillies on Monday. “These guys are obviously playing well and playing meaningful baseball and that’s what I want to be a part of and do what I can to help.”
The Phils acquired the 32-year-old power hitter in a trade with Seattle on Sunday. The acquisition was designed to bolster the bench, but Bruce will get some starts in left field — maybe as soon as Tuesday — and if he produces he’ll get more regular time.
(He actually got significant playing time Monday night, but not for the right reason.)
“My goal is to be a big part of this and not the rock the boat,” Bruce said. “Slide right in and carry on.”
Manager Gabe Kapler met with Bruce on Monday afternoon and the two discussed the player’s role.
“He believes and I believe that he has the capability to play regularly and contribute regularly,” Kapler said. “And we both understand that performance dictates opportunity.”
Bruce has 300 career homers, 14 this season with Seattle. The Phils like the idea of having that power on their bench for late-game pinch-hitting assignments.
Though Bruce hits left-handed, Kapler said he would consider using him as a pinch-hitter against left-handed pitchers.
“He’s hit a lot of home runs against lefties (five) in a really small amount of at-bats (38) this season,” Kapler said. “We’re not going to say just because a lefty is on the mound that means Jay Bruce is not in the lineup. In fact, we strongly considered putting him in the lineup [Monday]” against San Diego lefty Eric Lauer.
Bruce, who is under contract through 2020, is very familiar with the Phillies. He played against the Phils in the 2010 playoffs when he was with the Cincinnati Reds. In fact, he drew a walk in Game 1 of the NLDS and that prevented Roy Halladay from throwing a perfect game. Halladay settled for a no-hitter. In recent years, Bruce got a good look at the Phillies while playing for the New York Mets.
“I think (the Phillies) are clearly not making any secrets about trying to be competitive and trying to win it all,” Bruce said. “I have been on the other side of the coin when it was not fun to come to Philly and play, man.
“These guys are a dynamic team. They hit for power. I haven’t seen them too much this year being in the American League and literally being on the other side of the country. But I keep up with these guys offensively and they have some real offensive potential and track records of doing it.
“I think we’re in as good a position as anyone and I’m so excited to be a part of that and be here. I know what it looks like when they’re playing winning baseball in Philly. I’ve been on the other side and it’s going to be better to be on this side, I’m sure of that.”
Bruce was not on the bench long Monday night. He entered the game as the left fielder in bottom of the first inning after Andrew McCutchen injured his left knee running the bases.
McCutchen has a left knee sprain and will have an MRI on Tuesday. The Phillies are calling up Adam Haseley, one of their top prospects, to help in the outfield.
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