View Full Version : Bruce may usher in new Reds era

05-28-2008, 01:25 AM
Bruce may usher in new Reds era
Management believes center fielder will help change team
By Mark Sheldon / MLB.com

CINCINNATI -- The anticipation for Jay Bruce has been palpable since the day the Reds sent him out of Spring Training to get more seasoning in Triple-A -- probably even before that.

The Reds, who entered Tuesday with a 23-28 record and were mired in the National League Central basement, have needed a shot in the arm. Fans have been itching to get into a tizzy over the next big thing. And writers have been speculating about his arrival for months.

Now, here he is.

Cincinnati's management doesn't view Bruce as a knight in shining red armor, nor a redeemer for a losing season. As of right now, they're trying to view him as only their new starting center fielder.

"No, he's not the savior," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "We just want him to be himself. Just let him play and be himself. Don't put any labels on him. No comparisons. Just let him play. You can't help what people put on you or what people say. The only thing you can control is how you play. He's a confident young man. He's a bright young man and a competitive young man."

"He's just another part or piece of the team that we need to build on, not only for this year, but the future," Reds general manager Walt Jocketty said. "I hope people aren't expecting him to lead us. Whatever he does is going to be positive, but I don't think we should think of him as a savior. It's a little much to ask of a young guy."

From Pete Rose and Johnny Bench in the 1960s to Don Gullett in the 1970s to Barry Larkin in the 1980s to Homer Bailey last year and Johnny Cueto this year, the Reds have seen highly anticipated homegrown products finally rise to the top before. Bruce received a standing ovation during his first big league plate appearance, with several fans shouting "Bruuuuce," before he drew a walk.

Bruce, the organization's top Draft pick in 2005 (12th overall) and rated 2008's best prospect in all of baseball, is coming to town to with his eyes open. The Texas native is fully aware that people expect a lot.

"I've seen some stuff," Bruce said calmly. "People are going to want to see certain things. People are going to love it. People are going to hate it. Regardless, I have to take care of my business and let them make their decision."

Ken Griffey Jr.'s locker is a few over from Bruce's new address. Griffey surveyed the entrance of writers from a clubhouse chair.

"The average age on this team just went down," joked the 38-year-old Griffey, a former overall No. 1 Draft pick of the Mariners that was rightly considered a savior for Seattle when he debuted in 1989.

Bruce has plenty of company in a clubhouse that's definitely gravitated towards younger players. First baseman Joey Votto and pitcher Edinson Volquez started the season in Cincinnati. Shortstop Paul Janish was a recent callup from Louisville.

If a new Reds era hasn't started yet already, it's about to.

"We wanted to make sure when Jay gets up here, he's ready to go," Jocketty said. "He should have a long, successful career here. We're seeing what Votto has done, and Janish. The young guys that have come up have produced here and we hope to continue that movement."

Bruce was batting .364 average with 10 home runs and 37 RBIs at Louisville when the club announced his promotion on Monday. Votto, who came up for the first time last September, is close friends with Bruce and frequently talked with him on the phone this season.

"As well as he was hitting in the Minors, you hope that translates up here," Votto said. "He's another productive body that can help us out and help us get some wins. It will be a perfect situation for Jay. It doesn't matter who comes up here, as long as it helps the team ... but I get the feeling that he will help.

"Jay's considered the ultimate prospect. He was No. 1 and all that. I really wasn't considered a prospect at his level. Jay's got a lot of weight on his shoulders. He's got a big responsibility. I really can't compare him and I because we're three years different. He's coming up at 21 years old. I came up at 23. It's two different players. I think he's going to come up and play well but he has a lot to learn just like us all."

Baker wrote Bruce's name into the lineup's second spot for the series opener vs. the Pirates. The club's other center fielders, Corey Patterson and Ryan Freel, often batted leadoff. On Tuesday, Jerry Hairston Jr. batted leadoff. Bruce often batted in the third spot during his Minor League career.

"I didn't want to put that pressure on him to lead off," Baker said. "The third spot right now belongs to Junior. The fourth spot belongs to [Brandon] Phillips. The fifth spot belongs to [Adam] Dunn. Junior has 20 years of batting third. Just bide your time and learn everything. It will work out sooner or later."


05-28-2008, 02:38 AM
frigging baker and his cemented lineup card.....

Good game though

05-29-2008, 03:41 PM
Jay Bruce still agog from memorable debut
The Associated Press
Published: May 29, 2008

CINCINNATI: Crusted shaving cream clung to the side of the red baseball cap hanging from the side of Jay Bruce's locker, a reminder of one of the best debuts in Cincinnati Reds history.

The 21-year-old center fielder isn't going to get rid of the cap or the grin anytime soon.

"Pretty much the only way I can go from here is down, but I'm not worried about it," Bruce said Wednesday, standing in front of the locker with that day-old cap.

Bruce got a face full of shaving cream from catcher David Ross while he was doing a postgame television interview Tuesday night. The former first-round draft pick was called up and went 3-for-3 in his big league debut with a pair of walks, a stolen base and two RBIs.

The 9-6 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates drew a 9.7 rating on Fox Ohio, making it the highest-rated Reds game on the sports network this season. Approximately 90,000 homes tuned in to see Bruce's debut.

They saw something extremely rare.

Bruce became the first Reds player to have three hits in his debut since Willie Greene did it on Sept. 1, 1992, against Montreal. The ball from Bruce's first hit, an opposite-field single, rested on a shelf of his locker Wednesday.

His new teammates were doing their best to keep him from getting a big head under that hat.

Before Tuesday's game, outfielders Ken Griffey Jr. and Adam Dunn were among those who persuaded him to lead the team onto the field. Bruce went along, only to discover after a few strides that he was the only one heading out. Everyone else was in the dugout laughing.

"They told me to run out and tip my hat," Bruce said. "Nobody else ran out."

Bruce caught on way too late.

"He almost had the cap off, too," Griffey said Wednesday, still enjoying the gag.

Ross smothered Bruce's face and hat on the field after the game. Rather than discard the stained cap, Bruce decided to make it a keepsake he'd never gotten a face full of shaving cream.

The teasing didn't stop there. While he was talking to a few reporters on Wednesday about the cap, teammate Jerry Hairston Jr. blurted out: "I could sell that on eBay right now."

The Reds' top prospect also got a lot of playful teasing in spring training, when he didn't hit very well, hurt his thigh and failed to make the team. The teasing resumed when he reached Cincinnati, in part because he seems to take it so well.

"They picked up where they left off," Bruce said. "I'm the butt of a lot of jokes. I like it, though. People are laughing. People are having a good time. That's the way it's supposed to be."

If he keeps it up, he'll be an overnight sensation. The 17,964 fans gave him a standing ovation and yelled "BRUUUUUCE!" every time he came to bat on Tuesday. It's been a long time since anyone was such a quick hit in Cincinnati.

"It was impressive," said Griffey, who got the same type of treatment when he was traded to the Reds in 2000. "It was fun to watch."


05-29-2008, 04:04 PM
He may usher in a new era but it will more depend on how well Jocketty does his job over the next 12-18 months. This team has two starting OFs in the last year of their contracts and no long term answer at SS, C and CF. Walt has a lot of work to do.

05-29-2008, 05:40 PM
CINCINNATI: Crusted shaving cream clung to the side of the red baseball cap hanging from the side of Jay Bruce's locker, a reminder of one of the best debuts in Cincinnati Reds history.Funny, the article doesn't mention the red pair of these (http://www.bullsballs.com/suv/accessories.html), which hung below the red, shaving cream-encrusted cap on the side of Jay's locker. They were quite visible in the video interview that Matt700WLW posted. ;)