After 14 seasons in MLB, Yankees 1B/OF Jay Bruce is hanging up the cleats.
Bruce released a statement on Sunday, per The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal, to announce his “very difficult decision.”
“After 14 incredible seasons, I’ve decided to make the very difficult decision to retire from baseball,” Bruce wrote. “All I ever wanted to be “when I grew up” was a baseball player, and to say that I got to live out my dream would be the understatement of a lifetime. This sport gave me more than I could’ve ever asked for.”
Bruce, who has been struggling to start this season, took time to answer media questions Sunday where he said he knew it was the right call when he couldn’t perform the way he wanted.
“The reason I ultimately decide to choose this was because over 13 years of playing 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,” he explained. “I know there’s ups and downs and ebbs and flows throughout a season and throughout 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.”
Manager Aaron Boone got the text from Bruce Friday that he wanted to meet, and honestly didn’t know what it would be about.
“I mean, he texted me early in the day Friday, ‘Can we meet?’ In my office, so maybe at that point I was picturing a lot of different scenarios, so I guess I wasn’t totally caught off guard by it,” Boone said. “Really good conversation that I was able to have with them and reflect, looking forward and looking ahead. In the end, just congratulating him on what’s been a really good run.”
Bruce made the Yankees’ roster out of spring training after earning the first base role with Luke Voit out. But recently, it looked like the Yanks were phasing Bruce out of the position due to the lack of success at the plate and DJ LeMahieu taking over with the arrival of Rougned Odor to play second base.
Bruce went on to say that he cherishes the people and relationships he’s built the most throughout his career. It all began as a kid from Beaumont, TX that the Cincinnati Reds believed in out of high school, drafting Bruce 12th overall in the 2005 MLB Draft. He went on to make his Major League debut in 2008, hitting .254/.314/.453 with 21 homers and 52 RBI.
After nine years in Cincy, Bruce began to bounce around the league, starting with his 2016 trade to the Mets. New York would trade him to the Cleveland Indians the following year, but he’d return to the Mets in 2018. Then, he began the 2019 campaign with the Seattle Mariners before going to the Philadelphia Phillies that season as well. After a 2020 campaign in Philly, Bruce was picked up by the Yanks this year.
“Every stop I made throughout those 14 seasons were special, and my family and I are so appreciative of all the help and hospitality along the way. I’ve always loved baseball and will be a fan for life,” Bruce said.
Bruce will play one final game with the Yankees on Sunday before walking off into the sunset.