Notes: Bruce, Baker discuss injury

Notes: Bruce, Baker discuss injury

SARASOTA, Fla. -- Jay Bruce and Dusty Baker are back on the same page about the outfielder's history of leg injuries -- or the lack thereof.

Bruce hasn't played since Sunday when he suffered a mild strain of his left quadriceps muscle. On Monday, Baker indicated concern because he thought it was a recurring problem for the top prospect.

"One thing makes me a little wary is he's had this a couple of times," Baker said Monday.

By Tuesday, Baker was given a more accurate report from Bruce.

"He was under the impression I had missed a lot of time with it," Bruce said. "He can only go by what he was told. I'm glad he came up to me and talked to me about it, and let me have a chance to clear it up."

Bruce had a minor hamstring issues last season, but hasn't had any problems with his quadriceps.

"I missed three games with it last year, and it wasn't anything major," Bruce said. "I didn't play in the World Cup out of precautionary reasons. This is my first real quad injury ever, and I wouldn't even consider it an injury. It's just a little sore and tight. It's not a big deal at all."

"I'm learning and some people said this and some people said something else," Baker said after Tuesday's game. "I wanted to hear it right from him."

Baker said Tuesday afternoon that Bruce would not play again on Wednesday vs. Boston. The 20-year-old is 6-for-12 (.500) in five games this spring.

Bruce is trying to win the Reds' starting center fielder's job. The task got tougher with free agent Corey Patterson in camp to compete as a non-roster player. Ryan Freel, Norris Hopper and Chris Dickerson are also in the mix.

"It's no different," Bruce said of Patterson's addition. "There's already competition in camp. It'll add to it a little bit. Like I've said before, no matter who's here, I'm trying to make the team, regardless of who is vying for a spot. It's my job, and everybody else's job. It'll play itself out."

Spring Training
News and features:
• Jerry Hairston on being with Reds  400K
• Dusty Baker on the first game  400K
• Belisle on his spring debut  400K
• Reds' Green on his '08 hopes  400K
• Mercker on his spring debut  400K
• Fogg on his spring debut  400K
Spring Training info: coverage  |  Schedule  |  Ballpark  |  Tickets

Not thrilled: Reds starter Matt Belisle pitched two innings in the Reds' rain-shortened 7-4 win over the Indians. The game was called after 4 1/2 innings when it became official.

Belisle pitched a 1-2-3 first inning but gave up three earned runs on three doubles with a hit batsman and a strikeout.

"I didn't like it," Belisle said of the outing. "The first inning I had good results, but I could tell I was struggling with my command. I came out in the second and kept missing down -- down over and down off [the plate]. It's a good place to miss but it's real tough to pitch when you're behind in the counts."

Through four innings in two starts, Belisle is 1-0 with a 6.75 ERA. The right-hander is competing for one of three available spots in the Reds rotation.

Almost regular: Baker employed a lineup that could be similar to what he uses on Opening Day. It was: Freel, CF; Jeff Keppinger, SS; Ken Griffey Jr., RF; Brandon Phillips, 2B; Adam Dunn, LF; Edwin Encarnacion, 3B; Joey Votto, 1B; Paul Bako, C; Jolbert Cabrera, DH.

"It's pretty close," Baker said.

Center field is still an open issue, as is first base. Injured catcher David Ross (back spasms) is expected to be the regular behind the plate.

Transaction: Encarnacion was signed to a one-year contract on Tuesday.

Up next: Two young rotation candidates will be featured when the Reds play the Red Sox at 1:05 p.m. ET Wednesday at Fort Myers. Homer Bailey will start for Cincinnati, with Edinson Volquez also scheduled to work. Jon Lester is Boston's scheduled starter.

Mark Sheldon is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.