NEW YORK – Jay Bruce has seen enough. He was on the roster of the New York Yankees on opening day, but his poor start to the season has not been overcome.
So after Sunday’s 4-2 loss at Tampa Bay, the three-time All-Star outfielder decided to retire at age 34.
He said it was just a permanent flaw in my work. I felt like I couldn’t do it at an acceptable level.
Bruce informed Yankees manager Aaron Boone of his decision during a 20-minute conversation in the manager’s office Friday and then made a public statement before Sunday’s game.
Bruce began his spring training with the Yankees on a minor league contract and was in the process of breaking into the big leagues as a first baseman when Luke Voit tore the meniscus in his left knee. He earned $1.35 million for the year.
He’s hitting .118 with one homer and three RBIs in 39 appearances, and he remained active in Sunday’s game. He started the first eight games at first base, but only two of the next seven.
Jay Bruce said: Looking back over my 14-year career, I have been involved in many incredible situations. Jason Szenes/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock
Bruce has a .244 batting average with 319 home runs and 951 RBIs in 14 major league seasons with Cincinnati (2008-16), the New York Mets (2016-18), Cleveland (2017), Seattle (2019), Philadelphia (2019-20) and the Yankees.
I’ve been fortunate throughout my career to be able to set a standard for myself that, frankly, has been very good most of the time, he said. And I don’t feel like I can do it, and I think that was also a deciding factor in the decision. And I feel good about that decision, and I’m grateful that I can be honest enough with myself to know that it’s time to close this chapter.
Bruce said his best memory was when Houston’s Tim Byrdak won his first Cincinnati title since 1995 in 2010.
The crazy thing is, I was 23 at the time and I thought this kind of thing happened all the time, he said. Knowing that the moment I will remember most was 10 or 11 years ago is pretty crazy now. And looking back, I appreciate everything else more because so much has happened since then. I was excited and surrounded by different and incredible situations.
I saw the 600. Ken Griffey Jr’s home run, was part of some great scoreless games, and the Indians have won 22 consecutive games. I had a double shift to get my 22. Win the game. I didn’t make it to the top of the hill. I didn’t make it all the way to the top. I didn’t win the World Series, but that’s okay.
Bruce played 43 games for the Indians in 2017 after being acquired from the Mets in a trade.
He’s a great guy, Cleveland manager Terry Francona said. He’s a funny guy. We’ve only been together a few months, but that doesn’t mean we don’t love someone. It felt good to be there for him.
His decision to retire will cost him $1,219,355 in salary for the remainder of the season. Bruce proudly signed autographs on the wall of the Yankees clubhouse at the new Yankee Stadium, which opened in 2009.
I chose the Yankees because they are the New York Yankees and because I believe the guys in this room are capable of winning the World Series as well or better than anyone else, he said. I appreciate the Yankees giving me a chance to come here and prove that I’m healthy enough to play. And most importantly: The staff here have been great and have helped me make a new position my own every day.
Bruce isn’t sure what he’s going to do next.
My son is going to kindergarten in August, so I will be using the shuttle at least. As for baseball, I love baseball. I like it. Anyone who knows me knows I’m a big baseball fan. I always have been. At night I go home and watch baseball. And some people think that’s crazy. Some people love it. Who knows?
Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.