By Matt Crossman
updated 9:09 a.m. ET, Fri., March. 13, 2009
With a pair of young studs (Edinson Volquez, Johnny Cueto) in the rotation and the lineup (Joey Votto, Jay Bruce), the Reds look like a sleeper in the N.L. Central. Sporting News' Matt Crossman recently spoke with the 21-year-old Bruce about his impressive rookie season and what he has learned in his young career.
SN: What's the best part about spring training?
Jay Bruce: Being here with the guys.
SN: Do you ever think, "What am I doing here, I'm only 21?
JB: All the time. This year's going to be a lot better for me mentally. I feel like I'm part of this team now. I have a role on this team. Things aren't expected out of me, but I expect things out of myself. I feel like I can be a big part of helping this team win. Age is just a number. You act 21, you're going to be treated 21.
SN: What do you know about the game now that you wish you knew five years ago?
JB: There are so many little things I wish I would have known a long time ago that would have helped me get here quicker. But I can't complain about how quick I got here -- it was a pretty short stay for me in the minor leagues, fortunately.
SN: What is one of those little things?
JB: Baserunning, or tendencies for pitchers. I can't really name one in particular. Also, taking care of your body. I think that's a big deal.
SN: What do you miss least about the minors?
JB: Bus rides.
SN: Not the endless peanut butter and jelly sandwiches?
JB: I love peanut butter and jelly.
SN: Is there a pitcher you'd be fine with never having to face again?
JB: C.C. (Sabathia). He's got so many weapons. He's just so big, so good.
SN: Is it as intimidating standing in against him as it seems like it would be?
JB: I don't know about intimidating. But you've got to come with your best. You can't take a pitch off.
SN: Is there a guy on your team you're glad is a teammate, so you don't have to face him?
JB: (Edinson) Volquez and (Johnny) Cueto. I've seen (Cueto) absolutely dominate some teams. Especially in the minor leagues. Oh my God. It's like it's easy for him. His whole repertoire, everything he brings to the table, you never know what you're going to get. He's got a live, explosive arm. He's got good breaking stuff. Here it comes; he's going to come after you.