Major workload's no sweat
While it lasts for prospect
BY JOHN FAY | JFAY@ENQUIRER.COM
SARASOTA, Fla. - A lot of pro baseball players would look at playing both games of a day-night, split-squad doubleheader as cruel and unusual duty.
Not Jay Bruce.
Bruce, who made his big-league spring debut Thursday afternoon, was delighted to be in the starting lineup for the night game.
"Awesome," the outfield prospect said. "It's a chance to be in the game from Pitch 1."
Bruce went 1-for-2 in the Reds' 13-1 loss to Pittsburgh in the afternoon game. It was a forgettable game to everyone but Bruce.
"It was so much fun," he said. "I just had a blast."
Bruce is the position-player equivalent of pitching prospect Homer Bailey. Bruce, 20, was the club's first pick in the 2005 draft.
He was one of the youngest players in the Midwest League last year, but he had one of the best seasons. He hit .291 with 16 home runs, 81 RBI and 19 stolen bases. He led the league in doubles (42) and extra-base hits (63).
Reds manager Jerry Narron gets his pick of the minor-league players when he needs extra bodies. It was his call to bring up Bruce.
"I think he's got a chance to be a good major-league player," Narron said. "I love to see young guys with talent play. I love to see young guys who bust their tails play."
Bruce said the players have made him feel welcome.
"They make it easy," he said. "It's a good atmosphere."
So is Bruce starting to feel like a big-leaguer?
"No, not at all," he said. "I feel like I'm in a major-league clubhouse. But I don't feel like a major-leaguer."
Bruce is likely to be in the majors fairly soon. He is this season's 14th-ranked prospect overall by Baseball America. He probably will start the season at Single-A Sarasota.