Bruce on his ‘miserable’ season
While talking to Reds right fielder Jay Bruce on Saturday, he was rather candid about the season he’s had. I will have more on MLB.com/Reds.com later but Bruce said so much that I felt like some of it needed to be read on the blog.
Bruce entered Saturday batting .218/.294/.372 in 113 games with 14 home runs and 55 RBIs. He’s walked 44 times and struck out 128 times.
“I know it’s been miserable to watch for everybody. I understand it,” Bruce said. “It’s miserable for me to watch too. But I take a lot of pride in doing things the right way and never settling for whatever it is. Even when I had successful seasons, I felt like I was underachieving. These 400 or whatever at-bats of my hopefully 8,000 at-bat career or more – if this is going to bring something positive in the end, I’m willing to make the sacrifice for the bigger picture. It’s something right now that I take a lot of pride in finding those little, tiny nuances that are going to help me be a better player moving forward. People may not see it. Fans might not care. Fans want success right now and yesterday, the day before that and in April and May. I can’t blame them for that. That’s the whole point of the game, to be successful and win games. I’m working. That’s something I’m proud of.”
Bruce, of course, was on the DL from May 6-20 following arthroscopic surgery to repair torn meniscus cartilage in his left knee. He returned after an accelerated rehab process. He refused to use that as excuse for his poor play but admitted what manager Bryan Price said during his session today, that Bruce has been playing at less than 100 percent since his return.
“I think anyone who is familiar with the game of baseball and familiar with any type of surgery understands that there is period of time, ideally, where you have your surgery, you rest and you start rehabbing,” Bruce said. “There was no rest. I came back in two weeks, healthy enough to play. I’m a big believe that if you’re on the field, you’re expected to perform to a certain level. I haven’t been performing well. It’s led me to trying to do things with my swing, all kinds of stuff.”
On Thursday vs. the Cubs, Bruce tied a club record with a five strikeout game while going 0-for-5. It was a product of his season-long struggles and his latest efforts to tinker with his hitting approach.
“The other day when I struck out five times, my hands were six, seven or eight inches lower than they have been,” Bruce said. “I made the change myself. It was a test and it failed miserably. I’ll tell you what, I almost had a panic attack when I struck out the fifth time. It was the most embarrassing moment I’ve ever had on the field. It happens. It better not happen often, I’ll tell you that. You guys have talked to me for seven years now. I’m always trying to get better and create a better and cleaner path to the ball. It’s even more apparent when I’m not 100 percent that I need to do that. That’s the silver lining I’m taking out of all of this – really focusing and working on that. It can’t do anything but make me better.
“I’ve looked forward to taking the challenge head-on all year. It has not been fun. But it’s part of the game. I look forward to what’s going to come from it. Hopefully from today on, that’s something I continue to tell myself – that today is the day. You just have to keep working and not give into the frustration, to the pressure, to everything that comes with struggling and not being 100 percent.”