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Q&A: Bruce on trade to Phils, Harper, future

July 15, 2019

Since joining the Phillies in a trade from the Mariners on June 2, outfielder Jay Bruce has been a productive hitter, batting .278 with 10 home runs and 29 RBIs, which leads the Phillies during that period. Bruce also became the first player in MLB history to collect 10 or

Since joining the Phillies in a trade from the Mariners on June 2, outfielder Jay Bruce has been a productive hitter, batting .278 with 10 home runs and 29 RBIs, which leads the Phillies during that period.

Bruce also became the first player in MLB history to collect 10 or more home runs for two different teams prior to the All-Star break. caught up with Bruce recently to talk about life in Philadelphia and being in a pennant race. The last time we spoke, you were a member of the Mets. Since then, two teams later, you are now with the Phillies. Tell me what life has been like?

Jay Bruce: It has been interesting. A lot of it has been fun. Some of it has been hectic. The trade in the offseason wasn’t nearly as crazy, because you have a chance to reset while you were still at home. But getting traded during the season from the West Coast to the East Coast presents some issues -- not problems by any means. You have a family to think about. You have to get your cars over, meet the team wherever they are and worry about the rest of your stuff later. I’ll tell you, it takes a good wife [Hanna]. Tell me how great she has been?

Bruce: She has been amazing. We have two small children and she just forges on no matter what. It gives peace of mind back home knowing everything is going to be taken care of. We have been together forever. She has seen it all. She has seen it in the Minor Leagues. She has earned everything she has coming to her for sure. It’s comforting and relaxing to know I have her behind the scenes. She does an amazing job. She just gets it. It’s been great. How’s life with the Phillies?

Bruce: It has been great. We've kind of been in the middle of the road, performance-wise. We are treading water. We are kind of holding on. We have some guys getting healthy and making the return back to the lineup. The organization and the players here have been incredibly easy on me to transition over to the team. When you get traded to a team, a lot of times there is a lot that goes into it -- from coming in, wanting to fit, being a part of the team, being yourself and doing it every single day. You want to get acclimated to your new surroundings. It can have some ups and downs. These guys have made it incredibly easy. They welcomed me with opened arms. It’s been a fun group. What the key to success when it comes to winning the division?

Bruce: We have to play better all around. The Braves are a very good team and so are we. But we have to play more consistent baseball. We have to play better baseball. I think we are capable of that. I notice you are playing much better in Philadelphia than you were in Seattle. I know you are hitting the home runs, but the batting average is up in Philly. What’s the difference?

Bruce: I just got off to a slow start in Seattle. Secondly, I was playing multiple positions, and I wasn’t playing everyday in Seattle. It’s not an excuse by any means … they did a good job in Seattle of letting me know what I was doing and when I was doing it. But, still, you have to try and bounce around and move around and perform every day at different positions when you have never done that before. It took some adjusting. I was getting used to it. That, coupled with getting off to a slow start, I think cause the dip in the batting average. I’m very fortunate now to come to the park every day and be in the same role I’ve been in – going on 12 years now -- which means come to the field and get to work.

Coming to Philadelphia, another huge factor is we are trying to win here. Taking nothing away from the Mariners, you can’t really say the same thing about them right now. They are rebuilding. They are taking a step back. Coming to Philadelphia, they are doing what it takes to win on a daily basis. When you were in Seattle, what was it like knowing you were on the trading block?

Bruce: I’ve gotten used to it. It's something that is part of the game. In my situation, I don’t control it. I try to focus on the things I can control and take care of my business. I make sure I’m prepared from any situation. As far as the trades and stuff, wherever people want to send me, I’m going to try to be the best version of myself I can. Do you think you will be in Philly for a while?

Bruce: Yeah, I hope. I really like it. It has been a great place. I always enjoyed going there to play as a visitor. This a team that is committed to winning. I think they are going to be that way for a while. I have another year left on my contract after this year, so who knows what’s going to happen. For my sake, I hope that I’m here. My wife really likes it. The whole situation is very positive. What is it like playing with Bryce Harper?

Bruce: It has been great. Bryce is someone I’ve played against a long time, someone I respected from the other side. I admire his game -- the game-changer, impact bat. He walks all the time. He gets on base. He hits home runs. He comes to the field every single day ready to go. That’s something that is impressive, and it’s becoming less common for that to be the case for players these days with the platoon and the numbers upstairs saying you need to rest these many days. He essentially plays every single inning of every single game. That is super impressive. It doesn’t get talked about very much, but knowing what it takes every single day to figure out how to get in there and usually make an impact on the game -- both sides of the ball, too -- is something that is very appreciated in this clubhouse. It seems like Bryce is more than what you expected.

Bruce: I don’t think he is more than what I expected because I played against him a long time. I think he handles himself well beyond his years. Like I said, he comes ready to play. He is one of the guys. He is a guy you want on your side. I think what people admire about you is that you are always relaxed. You don’t let a big city bother you.

Bruce: There are differences in the markets. Philly is about as close as it gets to New York. I make sure everything is taken care of and focus on playing baseball. If you have a consistent approach to that every day, it doesn’t matter where you are playing. I can’t help but ask: How’s Beaumont, Texas, your hometown? You never hide your love for the place.

Bruce: Beaumont is doing great. [The people] have bounced back well from Hurricane Harvey. It still takes some rebuilding and some chipping away at it. Beaumont is doing great, overall. What makes Beaumont so great?

Bruce: It’s home. For me, I’ve been fortunate to go to a lot of places in the country, but Beaumont is still home. Everywhere else, it's kind of a place to me. Being able to call Beaumont home -- the comfort that I have there and the support that I have there … it’s a great place for me. It’s awesome.

Bill Ladson has been a reporter for since 2002. He covered the Nationals/Expos from 2002-2016. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook.