Focused Bruce cracks 2 homers vs. Giants

Reds outfielder shuts out trade rumors during strong season

Focused Bruce cracks 2 homers vs. Giants

SAN FRANCISCO -- If this is Jay Bruce's last week playing right field for the Reds, he's making it count. Bruce is also giving his team, and its fans, plenty to miss.

With two home runs in Monday's 7-5 Reds victory over the Giants, Bruce demonstrated again he is capable of blocking out what's become the white noise of trade rumors and uncertainty. The non-waiver Trade Deadline arrives next Monday and his departure seems likely.

"I think that you have to compartmentalize in this game," Bruce said. "This is such a fleeting game. It's so unforgiving. You're never settled. You've never got it. You've never figured it out. It's like a puzzle that never has all the pieces to it. You might get close and feel pretty good about your progress, but you never are going to have the puzzle put together.

"It's my job to come here and focus on baseball and be professional about it. A lot of people have gone through this before and I'm not going to be the last one either."

Bruce on two-homer game

Bruce has been through it before. He sweated out the deadline one year ago but wasn't moved. He was almost traded at the start of Spring Training this year. A lot has changed since.

As he's restored plenty of value with a resurgent 2016 following two down years, Bruce and his wife, Hannah, now have a 3-month old son, too.

"It's harder this year," Bruce said. "I have a family I have to focus on now. Logistically, it's much more intricate. I know the skit. I know how it goes. But it will be nice when it's passed because we'll have a plan of attack on whether my family is staying where they are in Cincinnati or elsewhere."

Bruce, 29, is batting .272 with 23 homers and 77 RBIs this season. He has hit at least one homer in each of the last three games and is batting .357 (10-for-28) with five homers and 13 RBIs over his current seven-game hit streak.

In the fourth inning, Bruce provided the first hit vs. Jake Peavy by hitting a 1-1 breaking ball into the first row in right field -- a call that stood upon crew-chief review of whether there was fan interference. There was no doubt on the second shot, when he hit Peavy's 3-1 pitch into the right-center-field seats for the 20th multi-homer game of his career.

"You can't really let all of that outside stuff bother you. He doesn't let it bother him," Reds pitcher Anthony DeSclafani said. "He just goes out and plays. He's having an awesome year, a big year offensively, and he obviously does what he does in the outfield."

Where Bruce could land remains murky. Perhaps he could wind up simply swapping clubhouses this week as the Giants are among clubs sorely in need of a lefty-slugging corner outfielder.

"He doesn't know really what lies ahead, but he does know that he has enjoyed playing and still enjoys playing here with the Reds and doing a terrific job," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "This has really been, after two really tough years for him, kind of a breakout year, really. I think this is the best he's played, and I mean that sincerely."

Mark Sheldon has covered the Reds for since 2006, and previously covered the Twins from 2001-05. 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.