Sunday will be Jay Bruce’s last game as a Yankee — and major leaguer.
The 34-year-old outfielder/first baseman will retire after Sunday’s game against the Rays, he announced Sunday morning, marking the end of a 14-year career in the big leagues.
“The reason I ultimately chose to do this is because over 13 years of playing pretty much every single day, I set a standard of what I expected out of myself from a performance standpoint — or at least feeling like I’m able to perform at that level,” Bruce said. “I know there are ups and downs and ebbs and flows throughout a season and a career.
“But ultimately, I just felt like I couldn’t perform at the level that I expected out of myself. For me to do what I needed to do, it just wasn’t in the cards. It’s tough, but I feel at peace with it.”
Bruce said his decision came into focus about a week ago and he asked to speak with manager Aaron Boone on Friday to let him know. After signing with the Yankees on a minor league deal in February, Bruce had won a job out of spring training but was batting 4-for-34 with a home run in 10 games. He started first eight games of the season at first base, but had recently been phased out of the lineup.
The three-time All-Star, a 2005 first-round pick of the Reds out of high school in Beaumont, Texas, was available off the bench for Sunday’s game, though Boone said he had no set plan to get him in for a final sendoff.
“It is bittersweet, but I’ve always been honest with myself,” said Bruce, who has 319 career home runs. “I’ve always really tried to look in the mirror and be extremely honest, whether it was positive or negative. I tried not to sugarcoat anything to myself throughout my career. Everyone stops playing baseball at some point. I have been so fortunate to have had the career that I’ve had. I do not take any of it for granted. There are so many people that I need to thank.
“Ultimately, I’m proud of what has happened, what I’ve accomplished. I have no idea what’s next, but I know I love the game of baseball and I’m always gonna love it. So we’ll see what happens.”
Bruce, who also spent three seasons with the Mets, said he was grateful to wear a Yankees uniform before calling it a career.
“Obviously starting back in Cincinnati and finishing here, it’s been a great run for him,” Boone said. “He’s been a real pro with us. Been grateful to be around him here these last several weeks. I really wish him the best moving forward. But today should be a proud day for him of what’s been a really special career for him.”