Bruce exits Mets' game with right calf strain

Bruce exits Mets' game with right calf strain

ST. LOUIS -- Just as their lineup was starting to approach something close to whole, the Mets lost another player to injury. But outfielder Jay Bruce came away from Wednesday's 8-1 loss to the Cardinals with merely a right calf strain, and hopes to return to the lineup as soon as Thursday.

Bruce departed in the second inning, shortly after legging out a bloop double to left. He believes the injury stems from a ball that he fouled off his shin over the weekend in San Francisco, "knotting up" the muscles in back of his leg. Though Bruce felt fine as he warmed prior to Wednesday's game, he experienced a cramp as he jogged out to right field in the bottom of the first. Half an inning later, trainer Ray Ramirez accompanied him off the field.

"I couldn't afford to have him blow it out," manager Terry Collins said. "So I took him out."

Alejandro De Aza replaced Bruce as a pinch-runner, and is available to fill in for Bruce on Thursday if needed. But both Bruce and Collins are hopeful the outfielder's absence will not linger.

"I'm shooting for [Thursday]," Bruce said. "We'll see what happens when I get some more work done on it. But I don't consider it serious at all. I just didn't want it to get serious."

Bruce has been mired in a slump for most of August, after coming to the Mets in a blockbuster Trade Deadline deal. He entered Wednesday's play batting .158 with two homers in 20 games for the Mets, and was in an 0-for-12 funk prior to his double off Carlos Martinez.

Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2008. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo and Facebook, and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.