NEW YORK — Jay Bruce made his decision long before he passed through the steel archway of Aaron Boone’s office door, informing the Yankees manager of his intent to retire this weekend. In a conversation that spanned about 20 minutes, the veteran slugger gratefully accepted congratulations on a career worthy of praise.
A three-time All-Star and two-time Silver Slugger Award winner who played 14 big league seasons with six organizations, the 34-year-old Bruce announced that he will end his active career following Sunday’s Yankees game against the Rays at Yankee Stadium.
“It’s tough, but I feel peace with it,” Bruce said. “I feel so great about the game. I love the game of baseball; I don’t feel jaded by it, I don’t feel mad at it. I don’t feel like anything was taken from me. I feel like it gave me so much, and I hope that I will leave it better than I found it.”
Drafted by the Reds in the first round in 2005, Bruce batted .244/.314/.467 with 319 home runs and 951 RBIs in 1,650 games for the Reds (2008-16), Mets (2016-17, ‘18), Indians (2017), Mariners (2019), Phillies (2019-20) and Yankees (2021).
“It’s been a great run for him,” Boone said. “He’s been a real pro with us. I’ve been grateful to be around him here the last several weeks. I really wish him the best moving forward. Today should be a proud day for him, in what’s been a really special career.”
A non-roster invitee this spring, Bruce won a spot on the Opening Day roster following an injury to first baseman Luke Voit. Most of Bruce’s career was spent as an outfielder, and he accepted the challenge of stepping in for Voit, though Bruce struggled at the plate (4-for-34, .118) and in the field.
“I feel like it really hit me probably about a week ago, where the thought stopped leaving my mind,” Bruce said. “On Friday, I decided to let Aaron know that my plan was to retire, and that I really appreciated the opportunity. Ultimately, I just felt like I couldn’t perform at the level that I expected out of myself.”
Bruce will be available off the bench for Sunday’s game. Boone said that there is no set plan to insert Bruce as a pinch-hitter or into the field.
“It is bittersweet, but I’ve always really tried to look in the mirror and be honest with myself, whether it was positive or negative,” Bruce said. “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.”
“Luke’s doing really well,” Boone said. “He’s been taking some ground balls the last couple of days, so he’s on track. I don’t want to put a timetable on it because he’s got to go have at-bats and do all that, but he’s doing really well.”
Bruce said his immediate plans are to spend the next few months at home with his wife, Hannah, and their two young sons.
“I will be a shuttle service at the very least,” Bruce said with a smile. “I’ve never had a summer; I’ve been playing select baseball since I was 14 years old. To have a clean slate and a pretty open schedule, there are going to be some changes. Hannah and I started dating my senior year in high school … I look forward to her being able to do what she wants for essentially the first time in her adult life.”