DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Top prospect Jay Bruce will be monitored day-to-day after he made an early exit from Sunday's game because of a mild left quadriceps strain. In the second inning vs. the Blue Jays, Bruce smoked a two-out, two-run double to left-center field but walked off the field with trainer Mark Mann after the inning ended. He later sat in the clubhouse with his left thigh wrapped in ice. "It tightened up as I rounded first base. It's fine," Bruce said. "I didn't want to take any chances in spring. I'll stretch it out and ice [it]. It'll be ready to go in no time."
"We took him out for precaution," manager Dusty Baker said. Bruce, 20, has hits in all five spring games and is batting .500 (6-for-12). He is competing to be Cincinnati's starting center fielder against Ryan Freel and Norris Hopper. Baker moved Bruce into the leadoff spot for the first time against Toronto. One potential conundrum for the Reds is they'd be without a natural leadoff hitter if Bruce started over either Freel or Hopper. "I'm just trying stuff," Baker said. "That's what Spring Training is all about." Bruce, a five-tool player and the No. 1 prospect of 2008 as named by Baseball America, normally bats towards the middle of the order. Leading off didn't bother him. He grounded out during his first at-bat before hitting his double in the second inning. "It's still just an at-bat," he said. "You don't want to go in swinging on the first pitch because you want to see some. [Toronto starter] A.J. Burnett is going to throw strikes. He's going to be around the plate. He's got a good sinker so I got to see that in the first at-bat. The next at-bat, I saw one up and took a good swing at it."
Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.