Key for Bruce is health, not spring results

Reds right fielder says he feels 'awesome' physically

Key for Bruce is health, not spring results

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Jay Bruce's results in Cactus League games would suggest he's not locked in yet for the regular season. Fortunately for a veteran like the Reds' right fielder, results aren't the most important thing right now. That won't be until April 6, when the season opens vs. the Pirates.

What does count now is that Bruce is feeling good when he's at the plate, which was something he could not say last season.

"Physically, I feel awesome," Bruce said on Sunday. "I've been getting into a lot of good counts. I haven't been finishing the at-bats how I want so far, but I think it's a time where you feel almost too good. I feel really strong. I feel like I'm in a good position to make a good move and then I just get a little ahead of myself and a little anxious.

"That's what Spring Training is for. I definitely don't take for granted that I'm in a position where the results aren't the No. 1 thing, but everyone wants to have results. I feel confident about where I am. It's just a little more time to get locked in and ready to go."

Bruce is batting .176 in 13 games this spring, including a 1-for-19 stretch over his last six games, with two walks and eight strikeouts.

In May of last season, Bruce had left knee surgery and spent only two weeks on the disabled list. But he was never the same at the plate during a career-worst season when he batted .217 with 18 home runs, which ended his three-season streak of having at least 30 homers.

Bruce looks forward to 2015

This spring, manager Bryan Price has liked some of the things he's seen from Bruce's at-bats.

"Much better from a pitch-selection standpoint, much better from a physical standpoint as far as changes he's made with his swing," Price said. "When you come down to it like it's a results-oriented game, the results aren't exactly what he's looking for, but as far as the changes he's made, his approach, laying off pitches early in the at-bat.

"A lot of times he got in trouble last year was swinging at what was not a very good pitch for him to be swinging at early in the at-bat. I think that discipline is going to pay some significant dividends this year. He'll undoubtedly get locked in and be the type of player we know he has been in the past, and even beyond that, he can be an even better player."

Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Mark My Word, and follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.