Reds' Bruce picks up where he left off in return

Reds' Bruce picks up where he left off in return

CINCINNATI -- It's a little ironic that on the very day the Reds acquired extra outfield depth in Willie Bloomquist from the Royals, the outfielder they missed most returned.

Although not originally in Monday's lineup vs. Arizona, right fielder Jay Bruce was installed into the sixth spot. Chris Heisey, who is bothered by a sore left biceps, was removed. Bruce missed 12 games since Aug. 30 with a sore right side.

"We had a session with Dr. [Tim] Kremchek and him and myself a couple of days ago," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "When this happens, you're not going to be 100 percent until you rest in the winter time. At this point, he's about as good as he can get for a while. We tried to hold off and wait as long as we could."

Bruce had a memorable return during the Reds' 7-2 win. He went 3-for-4 with two home runs, a single and four RBIs.

"It was a big day for Jay," Baker said. "That was a big day for us. We needed that today."

The Reds were 5-7 while Bruce was out. For those 12 games, they were limited to only three healthy outfielders in Heisey, Drew Stubbs and Jonny Gomes. Bruce started taking batting practice in Colorado last week and gradually improved. On Sunday, Baker originally slated Bruce to return on Tuesday.

"I'm ready to go," Bruce said before Monday's game. "I feel ready to go. It's time to go. I want to get ready for that push and help my team as much as I can."

Bruce is batting .278 with 20 home runs and 62 RBIs. He was red-hot with a .533 (8-for-15) average in the four games before he went down.

"They say one guy can have a big impact on your lineup and your game if he's an impact player," Baker said. "Jay was certainly an impact before he got hurt the last month."