Bruce heating up, leads MLB in triples

Bruce heating up, leads MLB in triples

DENVER -- If a Reds player is going to lead the Major Leagues in triples, the quick-footed Billy Hamilton might be the first name that comes to mind. But low and behold, it's actually Jay Bruce at the top of the leaderboard.

Bruce hit his Major League-leading fifth triple of the season in the first inning that started the momentum before an 11-4 Reds win over the Rockies on Thursday.

"I hit it and run until I think I should stop," Bruce said.

Bruce has hit safely in six straight games and eight of his last nine. In that stretch, he is hitting .316 (12-for-38) with three home runs, four doubles and three triples. In the Reds' series vs. the Rockies, he went 7-for-18 and was a single shy of hitting for the cycle in Wednesday's victory.

Since May 14, Bruce has raised his overall average from .239 to .275/.323/.571 with 11 homers and 36 RBIs in 49 games. Could this be another one of his torrid upticks in production in the making?

"Honestly, this year so far has felt the most consistent for me just from a feeling standpoint," Bruce said. "I just think my swing is in a good spot. I don't honestly think about getting hot or not being hot. I try to take the same approach every day. I think the biggest thing is ending at-bats when they're supposed to end. You get a pitch to hit, it's got to be done. My second at-bat today, I didn't do that [and struck out in the third inning]. It really, really upset me."

In the first inning with Joey Votto on second base and two outs, Bruce drove his RBI triple to the wall in right-center field. In a six-run fifth that blew the game open, he hit a RBI double to right field that also scored Votto.

Bruce plates Votto again

"It's not just pull homers, he's stayed in the middle of the field for some extra-base hits, homers to center, right-center, left-center," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "It's been terrific. Certainly much-needed."

Although Price wasn't implying as such, it could also help add some needed value to Bruce on the trade market this summer. He's been an oft-mentioned name in rumors since last summer and was nearly traded before Spring Training.

There are a few contenders that could be feeling shorthanded. The White Sox lack a left-handed bat and the Giants are missing both Hunter Pence and Angel Pagan with hamstring injuries. There are also the Indians, who lost outfielder Marlon Byrd because of his 162-game suspension for testing positive for a performance-enhancing drug. Cleveland is one of the eight clubs on the limited no-trade clause for Bruce, who is making $12.5 million this season and has a $13 million club option for 2017 with a $1 million buyout.

As recently as Tuesday, president of baseball operations Walt Jocketty said there have yet to be trade talks for his players. In the here and now, Bruce and the Reds were simply enjoying their first road series win by taking three of four from Colorado.

"It's a long season and you have to try and keep things in perspective and play the hand you're dealt," Bruce said. "When you have opportunities to win games, you have to do that, and we did that."

Mark Sheldon has covered the Reds for since 2006, and previously covered the Twins from 2001-05. Read his blog, Mark My Word, follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.