Effort Catching Up to Bruce's Talent

Effort Catching Up to Bruce's Talent

Jay Bruce is in one of those rare-air moments of his, when every waist-high fastball finds the fat of his bat. When Bruce is this way, he is a trot waiting to happen. The good thing about it is, he can get hot enough to carry the Reds. The bad thing is, he has no idea what he’s doing.

At least until now. Maybe. Possibly.

“I’m feeling now like I’m ready to make the right move on the right pitch,’’ Bruce said Sunday. “In years past, if I hit home runs, I did. If I didn’t, I didn’t. I didn’t know why.’’

When you reach Bruce’s level of experience and expertise, the gains you make as a hitter are mostly from the neck up. Everybody can hit a fastball 350 feet. Every hitter can guess right on a hanging curveball, even bad hitters. If you have big ability, what distinguishes you is what you do when no one’s looking.

Bruce smashed his fourth homer in four games Sunday. It was a 381-foot rainbow to right center, a few rows above the 370-foot sign. It gave the Reds a 5-4 comeback win over the Houston Astros. It was the sort of win the Reds have to have, if they aim to fulfill the promise of 2011. A big part of that promise hinges on Bruce’s continued improvement as a hitter.

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