The evening after Jay Bruce hit a new low — having .159-hitting Eric Campbell pinch hit for him in the eighth inning against Atlanta — the struggling rightfielder returned to playing left out.
Terry Collins held the lefty-hitting Bruce out of the lineup against rookie righty Ryan Weber in the Mets’ 4-3 loss to the Braves Wednesday night at Citi Field. It marked the third time in the last four games he sat at the start.
Bruce’s reaction this time?
“No reaction,” he said. “Just not playing right now.”
But Bruce did have a reaction to what has happened since he arrived from Cincinnati as the National League RBI leader on Aug. 1. He thinks this is the toughest stretch he has been through in his nine years in the majors.
“New place, different place, no place to live, my family’s not here, not playing well, yeah, it’s definitely I think overall the toughest,” Bruce said. “But people deal with this type of stuff all the time.”
Collins liked Bruce’s postgame words Tuesday night after getting pulled in the 5-4 loss.
“I thought what he said . . . after the game was exactly what a manager would want to hear and that was, ‘No, I was not happy to be pinch hit for. I think I’m the guy. But I certainly understand. He’s the manager. He has to do what he thinks [is] best,’ ” Collins said. “ . . . That just tells you he is in this for the team.”
The 29-year-old three-time All-Star fanned as a pinch hitter in the ninth inning of this series finale, dropping him to .175 with four homers and 11 RBIs in 41 games with the Mets. He’s stuck in 0-for-14 and 3-for-39 slides. The fans have booed him with every strikeout, soft fly ball and easy grounder.
“Obviously, no one likes being booed,” Bruce said. “But I understand that they’re passionate. They expect a certain level of execution and performance out of me.”
Everything has felt “perfectly normal,” according to Bruce.
“The results are just not there, and this is a results game,” Bruce said.
He has handled his frustration calmly, for the most part.
“When I was younger, I got mad more often,” Bruce said. “But it’s a waste of energy. I broke a helmet the other night. But it’s not really characteristic of me. I try and keep a pretty level head.”
The Mets will have to decide whether to pick up his $13 million option. But Bruce hasn’t given up on getting back in the swing of things this season.
“I still plan on being a big part of this hunt for the World Series here,” Bruce said. “This is just a blip.”