No winter ball for Bruce

Busy news day all around the clubhouse, beyond Dick Pole being out as pitching coach.

Jay Bruce has changed his mind about playing winter ball in the Dominican Republic. Bruce has batted .316 (12-for-38) with four homers and 16 RBIs since returning from a fractured right wrist, but said that had little to do with the decision.

“I didn’t think I would get back and get this much playing time,” Bruce said. I don’t feel like winter ball would benefit me.”

Bruce, who was saying as recently as last week he would head to the Dominican for a month in late November, entered the night with 378 plate appearances and batting .220 with 22 homers and 57 RBIs. He’s played 15 games with nine starts after his activation from the eight-week stint on the DL.

“It has to do with feeling comfortable,” Bruce said. “It definitely helps that I’m having quality at-bats, playing a lot and getting that done. I’ve gotten some considerable at-bats since I got back.”

If you were wondering why reliever Arthur Rhodes hasn’t pitched since Sept. 22, there is a reason. Rhodes has a broken big left toe, Dusty Baker said. Apparently it happened way back on Sept. 4 in Atlanta when Rhodes jumped for a ball during batting practice.

“We didn’t want to take chance of him doing something mechanically different and hurting his arm,” Baker said.

Amazingly, Rhodes has pitched eight times since the injury — including on Sept. 4.

Edinson Volquez watched batting practice and is still unable to pick up a baseball. But he was pretty pleased with his progress from Tommy John surgery on his right elbow.

“It’s unbelievable the way I feel,” Volquez said. “Eight weeks later, I feel like nothing happened. I feel normal. I feel like can pitch right now but I have to wait.”

Volquez isn’t expected to pitch for the Reds again until around the All-Star break next season.

After the season, Volquez planned to remain in Cincinnati for four weeks and workout at Dr. Tim Kremchek’s clinic. After that, he will continue to rehab as the Reds academy in the Dominican Republic.

Baker and Walt Jocketty were asked about the chances for Paul Janish to be the starting shortstop next season. Neither committed to naming him the main man now but he seems to be in the running, especially if a better hitting shortstop can be found.

“I haven’t really come up with a definitive decision yet,” Baker said. “He’s shown signs of improvement, big time. We know he can play shortstop. The fact he has 20 doubles, that’s very impressive in a short period of time. Now if we can contiunue that but also try to get osme of the others in between. He’s working on it – staying out of the air, going the other way. He experimented with a heavier bat and chjoking up. He’s a bright young man and he and we will help him figure out how to be better.”

“I think he’s shown a lot of improvement,” Jocketty said. “A lot depends on our total offense. If we can pick up the offense in the other positions, maybe we can sacrifice a little bit more at short for the better defense. But we’d like to see him keep impreoving with offense.

“Our defense has always been strong on the right side. Now with Scott [Rolen] and Janish, it’s very strong on the left side. I think the pitchers like that a lot.”

Jocketty’s comment is pretty much what I thought would be a factor. To me — if the offense improves, especially at  the leadoff spot, Janish has a superb chance of being the Opening Day shortstop in 2010. But that means Willy Taveras can’t be the main center fielder and leadoff man next year. Jay Bruce has to take a step forward. You can’t have two or three guys hitting in the .220 or less range. If Ryan Hanigan can show a tad more offense or Ramon Hernandez is brought back, that would help Janish’s cause too.

Reds lineup:

Stubbs 8
Janish 6
Votto 3
Phillips 4
Rolen 5
Bruce 9
Balentien 7
Tatum 2
Lehr 1

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Lots of interesting information here Mark, thanks for the update!

There are Louisville Bats all over the Dominican Winter League. Juan Fransisco is a beast. I just posted an entry on my blog:

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