PORT ST. LUCIE — Jay Bruce has one main regret from his ugly debut with the Mets, and it likely isn’t what you would think.
“I probably would have tried more diligently to find a place to live,” Bruce said Thursday. “I think that would have fixed a lot of things.”
The issue, according to Bruce, is that following his July trade from the Reds to the Mets, Bruce moved to New York on his own, and his wife and 4-month-old baby boy went back to their home in Beaumont, Texas.
Bruce lived in six different hotels over two months, changing hotels after every road trip.
“I didn’t feel at home there,” Bruce said. “Before road trips, I’d check out and pack before I left. Getting a place didn’t work out, so I would just find a different place for when I got back. I kept moving around, and it turned into a two-month road trip. I refuse to have it as an excuse as to why I didn’t play well, but it definitely affected my routine.”
And with the routine and family gone, Bruce’s offense went with them.
“I felt like I was abandoning my family a little bit,” Bruce said. “It’s part of the job and we sign up for that, but it was hard leaving them.”
Which is why he would redo that part of last season.
“Even if it would have been more expensive to get a place, it would have been better,” Bruce said. “And I think it would have fixed a lot of things because my family probably would have come with me then.”
This year, he insists he and his family will have a place of their own — provided, of course, Bruce is still a Met.
The Mets picked up Bruce’s $13 million option and looked to move Bruce for much of the offseason, with Yoenis Cespedes re-signed and Curtis Granderson and Michael Conforto in place for the other spots — along with Juan Lagares.
But there haven’t been any takers for Bruce, who had just a .685 OPS with his new team after an OPS of .875 OPS in 97 games with the Reds.
Bruce was insistent he doesn’t believe his woes at the plate were due to his living arrangements.
“A lot of it just had to do with baseball,” Bruce said. “I’ve had some down years, but I’ve had some really good years in the past, too.”
The Mets wouldn’t mind seeing that production return, since they either would have another power hitter in the middle of the lineup to go along with Cespedes or they would have an easier time finding a trade partner for Bruce.
Perhaps his finish to 2016 should give the Mets reason for hope. Over his last eight regular-season games, Bruce went 12-for-25 with four home runs.
“I didn’t play well, but I came around at the end,” Bruce said. “I just want to get this team back to the playoffs.”
And unlike last year, Bruce doesn’t plan on packing as often, wherever he winds up.
“We will not be living in a hotel this year,” Bruce said. “I can promise you that.”
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