View Full Version : Bruce back with Bats but likely not for long

04-03-2008, 03:57 PM
Bruce back with Bats but likely not for long
Talented young outfielder 'a pure hitter,' Sweet says

By C.L. Brown cbrown@courier-journal.com April 3, 2008

Jay Bruce returned to the Cincinnati Reds' clubhouse after a spring-training batting practice to see his picture on the cover of a tabloid, of which several copies were spread out on a table. The headline said it all: "The next big thing."

Rookies in major league clubhouses don't get a free pass to enjoy such fanfare without a caveat. Bruce was ordered by the older players to personally autograph each copy. He grabbed his pen, scribbled off one to Ken Griffey Jr., made another for Adam Dunn and before long had an autograph request that read:

"To Dusty,

The next big thing,


He took that one straight to the office and presented it to manager Dusty Baker. Bruce, who experienced his first spring training with the major league team, said the jokes from the veteran players were all in fun.

"Every day I knew it was going to be something -- I just rolled with it and had a good time," he said. "One day I'm going to be doing stuff like that to people, hopefully."

Probably one day soon.

The gifted outfielder, who turns 21 today, will start the season in Triple-A with the Louisville Bats. Based on his past performances, he might not be here long.

The Bats will open the season at Syracuse at 2 p.m. today. Their home opener will be April 11 against Pawtucket.

Manager Rick Sweet said fans had better enjoy Bruce now.

"My gut feeling is the next time Jay Bruce is in the big leagues, we won't be seeing him back here," Sweet said.

Bruce won the Reds organization's 2007 Minor League Player of the Year award. He played half of last season in Class A Sarasota before being moved up to Double-A Chattanooga. He played just 16 games there before he was needed for spot duty in Louisville.

Outfielder Dewayne Wise was on the disabled list with a hamstring injury, and Bruce was promoted to fill in. He turned his temporary stay into a full-time job, playing the final 50 games of the season with the Bats.

Bruce hit .305 with 11 home runs and 25 RBIs with Louisville -- numbers impressive enough to get him invited to the Reds' major league spring-training camp.

"The best way to put it is he's a pure hitter," Sweet said. "One of those guys who can get out of bed and he can go out and hit. There aren't many people like that in the game."

Bruce is rated the top prospect in the Reds' organization, but that alone didn't help him make the big league club. In 16 games with the Reds during spring training, he hit .262 with a double, 11 strikeouts and just one walk.

Sweet said the experience will make Bruce better in the long run. Veteran infielder Jolbert Cabrera, who has played with Cleveland, the Los Angeles Dodgers and Seattle, said Bruce constantly works to become more knowledgeable about the game.

"He asks questions because he wants to learn, knowing that you already have the experience," said Cabrera, at 35 the oldest player on the Bats' roster. "He's very smart. I'm pretty sure that he's going to make the adjustment and play in the big leagues."

Bruce said he got advice from Griffey and Scott Hatteberg but particularly from Dunn, who had a similar rise through the minor leagues.

Dunn played three full seasons in the minors before shooting through Chattanooga and Louisville to make the Reds in his fourth season. Bruce is entering his fourth season but said he won't become obsessed about being called up.

"Things like that work themselves out," he said. "I'm just going to play hard down here, and whenever the time does come just be ready."

C.L. Brown can be reached at (502) 582-4044.


04-06-2008, 01:09 AM
I cant wait for this guy to play for us. I am just waiting for the day to come when him and Homer come into the bigs.

04-06-2008, 01:17 AM