Jay Bruce homers as push to make Yankees roster heats up

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BRADENTON, Fla. — Jay Bruce arrived at Yankees camp on a minor league deal, believing he could contribute as long as he stayed healthy.

The veteran outfielder and first baseman flashed another reminder of his potential Saturday, crushing a first-inning home run and improving to 4-for-6 at the plate through three Grapefruit League games.

“I know that I’m good enough to be on the roster,” Bruce said at LECOM Park, where the Yankees fell to the Pirates, 3-2 in seven innings. “There’s no question, personally, about that, in my opinion. It goes back to health. Also, a lot of times, it depends on how they want to shape the roster. It depends on what they need from a defensive standpoint and just a player standpoint. So I’m not really concerning myself with a lot of that. If I’m healthy, I’m a good option.”

The 33-year-old Bruce started in right field on Saturday after starting at left field and first base in his first two games. That defensive versatility, plus his left-handed bat, could help his case to earn a bench spot out of camp, though there’s no lack of competition.

Of course, the former Met will also need to show he can stay healthy after straining his left quad last season and hitting the injured list with a strained oblique and left flexor strain in 2019.

“It’s hard to show you’re going to be healthy all year in the beginning of a year, but the things I’m trying to do in order to keep my feet under me, the recovery, the pre-hab, stuff like that, is going to be important for me all year long,” Bruce said. “I feel good so far, so everything’s going well, no complaints. Still getting my feet back under me here in camp, but that’s completely normal and I feel good.”

After making a leaping catch at the wall in left field earlier this week, Bruce’s highlight Saturday came from his bat and the long ball. In his second at bat, he ripped a line drive to third base, but it was snagged by former Yankee and Met Todd Frazier.

“A couple more good at-bats,” manager Aaron Boone said. “He continues to look really good here early in camp. I think it’s a product of him being healthy and feeling good, being the hitter he’s been most of his career.”

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