Jay Bruce, who said two weeks ago that he wasn't even thinking about the potential of playing first base this season, took grounders at first base prior to Tuesday night's game against the Marlins in Miami.
Bruce has only played the outfield so far this season, though Mets GM Sandy Alderson said last month that Bruce could play first base on a "reasonably every day basis" if it came to it. After having not played first base since 2014, Bruce graded out as average in 91 innings at the position in 2017.
The timing of Bruce taking grounders was interesting, as one of the reasons for him playing first base would be to get Brandon Nimmo in the lineup -- the same Brandon Nimmo who was demoted to Triple-A Las Vegas earlier on Tuesday.
A few days before his demotion, Nimmo said the Mets' outfield glut was a "great problem to have."
"I am a competitor, so I want to be out there," Nimmo said Thursday, according to Kristie Ackert of the NY Daily News. "But I also want this team to win, whatever they feel like is best to win, if that's me coming off the bench, if that's me starting that day, then that's what I am gonna do. I definitely want to succeed in whatever they ask me to do, so I am going to work hard and do that."
"Honestly, if I step back from the personal perspective and I look at it from a team perspective, this is a great problem to have," Nimmo added. "We have five outfielders who can play on an everyday basis, that's an amazing place to be when you are a team. We're really happy. As long as we're winning, we're all going to be pretty happy around here, so I am just going to try and help out."
The Mets didn't give Bruce any reps at first base during Spring Training, which Keith Hernandez took issue with last Thursday on SNY while discussing the playing-time conundrum the team was dealing with.
And while Adrian Gonzalez has hit well so far this season, the Mets' ideal lineup is one that has Yoenis Cespedes, Michael Conforto, Bruce, and Nimmo in it at the same time. And the only way to do that is to shift Bruce to first base.
The Mets have done a great job so far utilizing their bullpen and structuring their lineup in a way that maximizes their talent. In that vein, eventually using Bruce at first base to make room for Nimmo in the outfield when he returns would simply be the next step in that process.