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Bruce not concerned with slow start to season

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CINCINNATI -- Reds right fielder Jay Bruce certainly doesn't like how his 2013 season started, but also realizes there is a long way to go until his season reaches its destination.

"In the moment, you're frustrated," Bruce said Friday before facing the Nationals. "But we've played three games."

During that first three-game series vs. the Angels, Bruce was 1-for-13 and struck out seven times. The toughest number of all is the 14 runners he stranded on base.

Bruce, a streaky hitter going back to his 2008 rookie season, took early batting practice to get some extra swings prior to Friday's game.

"He fouls off pitches that ordinarily he should hit into fair territory that put him in the hole to strike out," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "He should be getting to the point now where these streaks should be minimized. He knows that. He's not a kid anymore. Hopefully this won't last as long as some of the other ones.

"We need him, especially in the middle part of the order. He comes up almost every at-bat with somebody on base. That's why when he's hot, he can get a bunch of RBIs in a short period of time. When you're cold, it compounds the pressure."

A year ago, Bruce got out of the gate and batted .296 with seven home runs and 17 RBIs in April.

"I still ended up hitting .250," Bruce pointed out.

Bruce actually hit .252 with 155 strikeouts, but also set career highs with 34 homers, 35 doubles, 99 RBIs and 288 total bases.

"It's seems to get forgotten a little. It's a results-driven game and what have you done for me lately?" Bruce said. "Hey, that's just the way the game is."

Bruce wasn't the only Red who didn't hit well vs. the Angels. Joey Votto and Ryan Hanigan were 1-for-10 and Zack Cozart was 0-for-11.

"Let's face it, we're facing very good pitching staffs off the bat," Baker said. "Jay is a guy that probably needs more reps than a lot of people -- he and [Ryan] Ludwick because when they get out of sync, they have quite a few moveable parts. When they're in sync, that's why they're so hot because everything is going right and fine tuned."

Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Mark My Word, and follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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