Jay Bruce struck out again and again and again and again Friday night against the Phillies. And that wasn’t “Bruuuuuuce” repeatedly echoing through Citi Field. Those were boos spilling on him from the stands.
“I feel like if they weren’t booing, they wouldn’t care,” Bruce said. “The fans are what make this game go ’round. This is a city that is very passionate about their sports. I don’t concern myself too much about what the fans think.”
This Mets newcomer stood as the NL’s best RBI guy on Aug. 1, owning 80 of them along with 25 homers when they acquired him from Cincinnati. He would have loved to help their playoff push right away.
But Bruce’s four Ks in four at-bats dropped his Mets average to .160, which went with two homers and six RBIs in 22 games. Manager Terry Collins said Bruce’s recent calf tightness acted up in the game, but the manager didn’t play the 29-year-old three-time All-Star rightfielder in Saturday night’s 12-1 win to give him “more of a mental day.”
“I’m ready to play every single day,” Bruce said. “I respect the calls that Terry makes. He’s been very, very communicative with me . . . If he felt like I needed a day, I respect that.”
Bruce couldn’t have been more pleasant talking pregame in the dugout. His confidence didn’t sound shaken.
“I’m frustrated that I haven’t contributed,” Bruce said. “I’m not frustrated of how people perceive me or see me . . . I know the type of player that I am. And I think everyone also knows the type of player that I am . . . The expectations I put on myself are so much larger and bigger than any expectations that anyone else could have on me.
“I wake up every day and look in the mirror and I expect a certain amount of performance and execution and preparation. The preparation has been there.”
Collins thinks the man in the mirror has been putting too much pressure on himself.
“I think it’s human nature,” Collins said. “I don’t know of one player who’s ever been traded who instantly doesn’t want to make an impact. Here’s a guy who was leading the National League in RBIs. Here’s a guy who was on his way to probably 40 homers. Comes to an offense that was struggling . . . and wanted to be ‘The Guy.’ ”
There are 33 regular-season games left for him to try to become that guy.
“I don’t think it’s mechanical,” Bruce said. “I just think it’s baseball. Everybody goes through little funks here and there, and this is one of them for me. I’ve just got to keep working to just shake it off and get rolling.”