Bruce to bat in the No. 3 spot more often

Bruce to bat in the No. 3 spot more often

CINCINNATI -- Manager Dusty Baker knows where he wants to see Jay Bruce hit in the Reds lineup, and with the trade of Ken Griffey Jr. last week, Baker plans to pencil Bruce's name into the No. 3 hole.

Most nights, that is.

Baker put Bruce in the No. 7 slot in the Reds order Monday, mostly because of Brewers left-hander Manny Parra, who's the devil himself against left-handed hitters. But Bruce should be back at No. 3 on Tuesday.

And that's fine with Bruce.

"Yeah, that's the most comfortable position that I hit," Bruce said. "That's where I hit in the Minor Leagues. That's where I hit my whole life, basically."

Since he's been back in the No. 3 hole the past few games, Bruce said he's become more comfortable. He said he's ready for the demands that come with hitting there.

In fact, he said he welcomes them.

What he welcomes even more, though, is the confidence that Baker is showing by putting a young hitter in one of the prime spots in the batting order.

"It's good to see confidence any time," Bruce said. "For me to know that he has confidence in his player is pretty reassuring. It's not just me; it's confidence in everybody.

"I mean, I'm excited for it; I'm ready for it."

For Bruce, hitting third in the Majors is just another one of the lessons a five-tool rookie must master. The learning has its ups and downs, a point that Bruce easily acknowledges.

Playing well in the big leagues -- and hitting third in the Reds lineup -- requires adjustments. A player's success from yesterday isn't guaranteed to be his success of today, particularly at the plate.

Bruce called it a giant cat-and-mouse game that he must play with pitchers and their fielders.

"You really have to make adjustments," he said of hitting well in the Major Leagues. "It's really whoever makes adjustments quicker are going to be the people that are far more successful."

So far, Bruce has adjusted well -- to batting third in the lineup or to whatever else Baker has asked of him.

Justice B. Hill is a senior writer for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.