In an appearance on Mike Francesa’s WFAN show, the former Mets pitcher and current TV analyst said it’s clear manager Terry Collins has no faith in the slumping slugger. Trailing the Braves 5-3 Tuesday night with a runner on second base, Collins pinch-hit for Bruce with Eric Campbell. The move came after Collins gave Bruce a two-game mental break hoping to snap him out of his funk.
“I think that right now, after what transpired last night, it might be better to go in a different way and see if someone else can play the position, because you’ve told the player, ‘I really don’t have a lot of confidence in you,'” Darling said. ” … And I think it’s really hard when you’re going through a stretch, as Bruce has gone through. … When you don’t have the backing (from the manager) either, that’s not going to help.”
Bruce was not in the Mets’ lineup for Wednesday’s game.
He was batting .265 with 25 homers and a National League-leading 80 RBIs when the Mets acquired him in an Aug. 1 trade with the Cincinnati Reds. But since coming to New York, he’s hitting .176 with four home runs and 11 RBIs.
Darling recalled being in a similar situation during his career.
“I had been a big part of the Mets’ rotation for a long time, and I remember there was a huge game to pitch in 1990 late in the season, and they decided to pitch a young right-hander named (Julio) Valera instead of me,” Darling said. “And I remember going home at night and saying, ‘Am I that bad that they’re going to start this kid over me?'”
Darling said Collins doesn’t have to worry about other players questioning him for not sticking with Bruce longer.
“I think players are very vicious in this way,” the former All-Star said. “When the manager says it’s a meritocracy and the people that hit are going to play, they’re foaming at the mouth that they’re going to get a chance. It’s nothing anti-Bruce; it’s all about pro-them.”
To listen to the full interview, click on the audio player above.