DENVER — Jay Bruce was scratched from the Mets’ lineup Monday against the Rockies, his fourth game in the last five on the bench as he tries to manage right hip soreness, the latest in a series of physical issues during what has been his worst major-league season.
Manager Mickey Callaway said the Mets have not broached the possibility of a stint on the disabled list — a minimum 10-day rest— with Bruce, who dislikes sitting out.
“He wanted to play really bad,” Callaway said. “I tried to make the decision for him. He’s such a team guy that it’s sometimes hard to understand he might need a rest.”
Bruce didn’t play Thursday-Saturday against the Diamondbacks, returned Sunday to go 0-for-4 with three strikeouts, and woke up “pretty sore” Monday, he said.
When it comes to going on the DL, something Bruce hasn’t done since May 2014 (knee surgery), he is a tough sell. Bruce said he has not been checked out by a doctor.
“For me, right now, I haven’t really thought about it,” Bruce said. “I tend to try not to listen to my body very much when I feel [soreness]. I feel like if I can play, I can play. I don’t know. I haven’t really thought much about it. I just try to do what I can to get ready to play and play every day.”
Bruce has dealt with plantar fasciitis in his left foot since spring training and had a brief bout of back soreness this month, separate from his current hip issue.
Callaway, who is normally quick to equivocate, said in firm terms that Bruce’s physical issues are contributing to his on-field issues, including a .212/.292/.321 slash line, no home runs since May 7 and lessened mobility in rightfield.
“It’s tough to know what players are really feeling, especially a player who wants to go out there and play every single day so they don’t complain about what’s going on,” Callaway said. “But I think this is definitely affecting him. Looking over everything, talking to him a little bit further, understanding a few more things, it seems like this has had its toll.”
It’s not the first time the Mets have been slow to make a DL decision this year. Yoenis Cespedes (strained right hip flexor) played hurt for a week and a half before going on the DL May 16; he is still out with no timeline to return. Todd Frazier said he worked around a hamstring issue for a couple of weeks before sitting out for almost a month.
Bruce’s situation leaves the Mets in a tough spot. He is hurting, and it’s affecting his play. But he doesn’t want to go on the DL. But he isn’t offering the Mets much anyway. But he can’t turn it around unless he’s on the field. But it’ll be harder to return to productivity if he’s struggling physically.
“I think we have to keep [the DL] option open,” Callaway said. “We’ll see obviously how he comes in day-to-day. I think we need to get Jay Bruce right so he can be the Jay Bruce that his team wants him to be and that he wants to be.”
A possible factor in the roster decision: The Mets don’t have an obvious replacement in the upper minors. Wilmer Flores and Dominic Smith have worked out a bit in the corner spots. Infielder/outfielder Ty Kelly would be an option at Triple-A Las Vegas. Kevin Kaczmarski, 26, has a .392/.435/.486 slash line in 22 games for Las Vegas. Patrick Kivlehan is also there and has major-league experience with the Reds.
The final call belongs to the Mets, not Bruce.
“I don’t want it to be a situation where I miss a ton of time when I could’ve nipped it in the bud,” Bruce said. “But we’ll just have to see.”