Sis keeps up with Bruce's heroics
RELATED: McCoy: Bailey starts Thursday | Comment
ARCHDEACON: Plenty of time to charge to top of division
MORE: > Sis keeps up with Bruce | Reds photos
By Tom Archdeacon
Monday, June 02, 2008
CINCINNATI — In the Bruce household back in Texas, it's up for debate who has had the bigger week — Jay and what he's done since he got to Cincinnati or older sister, Kellan, and how she got to Dayton.
He has single-handedly injected life into the Cincinnati Reds and its "Bruuuuuce!" screaming fans with a major-league debut beyond belief.
Sunday, June 1, the 21-year-old former Dayton Dragon hit another home run, hit a single, drove in two runs, scored twice and walked as the Reds defeated Atlanta 6-2 to complete a three-game sweep.
Since coming up to the big leagues six games ago from Class AAA Louisville, Bruce has a .591 batting average with 13 hits in 22 at-bats, two home runs, three doubles, six RBIs and six walks. Consequently, the previously cellar-dwelling Reds have won five of six games.
Yet, if you ask Bruce, he'll say what he's done pales to the week's accomplishments of his 26-year-old sister, who was born with her umbilical cord wrapped twice around her neck. Although that left her with some mental challenges, she is unequalled in the human lessons she is able to impart.
That especially was the case last Tuesday just before her brother played his first game with the Reds. That's when she showed Jay how to face the biggest challenge of your life — how to conquer fear and pressure — and show just what you're made of.
"Kellan has always been afraid to fly — and she's been deathly afraid of escalators, too — but she did both when we came up here for the game," said the eldest of three Bruce children, 31-year-old Amy Gore.
"We flew from Houston to Atlanta, rode the people mover at the airport there, and then caught a flight into Dayton. Once we drove to our hotel, Kellan rode another escalator.
"So when we finally got to the ballpark and saw Jay, the first thing she told him was how she flew on a plane and rode an escalator. That was her home run. It was like she conquered Mount Everest.
"And you could see in Jay's face how proud he was of her. He loves his sister and takes her under his wing as much as he can. Not just because of what happened to her, but because of what she's done for him. She's taught all of us to be grounded, to appreciate what we have."
Although he doesn't know anything about the relationship between Bruce and his sister, Reds veteran relief pitcher Kent Mercker talked about that appreciation the rookie shows:
"It's amazing to watch what he's doing. Obviously, physically he's got everything he needs, but the thing that matters most is how guys react when they first get up here.
"Some try to play too hard and do more than they're capable of. Others think they have it figured out before they get here. They think they belonged here long before this, and there's a sense (of entitlement.)
"But he seems to appreciate this. He's got a real understanding."
Bruce — who often calls his sister and tells her he loves her — quietly tried to explain some of this Sunday: "She didn't get the chances in life I was blessed with and yet she enjoys everything — riding her bike, listening to music, everything. She puts everything in perspective and helps me not take anything for granted."
Back in Port Naches, Texas — where she's staying with her sister for a month — Kellan watched Saturday's game and, in Amy's words, "was jumping up and down like all of us when he hit that (walk-off) home run."
Sunday, though, rather than listening to the Reds' game, Kellan went to a water park with Amy and her kids. After all, she had to keep her big week rolling, too.