Bruce hitting stride after being hit in hand

Bruce hitting stride after being hit in hand

CHICAGO -- A few days ago, Reds right fielder Jay Bruce was not only out with a sore right hand but, was also mired in an early slump.

In the previous two games back in the lineup against the Cubs, Bruce was 4-for-8 with two home runs and three RBIs. With one strikeout, he seemed to be avoiding bad pitches.

"It's always good to come back and get hits," Bruce said. "But you want to get hits whether you've been here or are coming back."

In the two games, Bruce raised his average from .176 to .238 with three homers and eight RBIs heading into Thursday's game vs. Chicago. He missed three games in Houston after his hand became sore after a check swing. It was the same hand that was hit by a pitch on April 13 in Milwaukee.

Does the hand still affect Bruce at the plate?

"Not anything to speak of, really," he said. "Sometimes, here and there it's a little sore. But I think that's more because it's cold. Everything is fine for the most part."

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