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Baker gives Bruce a rest, starts Heisey

Baker gives Bruce a rest, starts Heisey

Baker gives Bruce a rest, starts Heisey

CINCINNATI -- It doesn't happen often, but Reds right fielder Jay Bruce was not in Saturday's lineup vs. the Brewers. Chris Heisey started in Bruce's place.

Bruce is 3-for-13 lifetime vs. Brewers starter Wily Peralta, but the issue is the bigger picture. He is batting .192 with two homers over his last 20 games, including 0-for-4 on Friday, and 3-for-19 on the homestand.

"It's as much a mental off-day as it is anything else," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "When you're a little fatigued, you start missing pitches and fouling pitches off. The difference in your concentration is less than a 10th of an inch between a popup, a foul ball and a home run. I just saw and thought it was necessary."

Bruce entered the night leading the Majors in total innings played and had started the previous 90 games in a row. Baker told him following Friday's game that he would not be in Saturday's lineup.

"He told me to come in a little later and don't do much," Bruce said. "It is hard. He's pretty adamant about giving guys some rest when he thinks they need it. I respect that."

Bruce entered Saturday batting .266 with 24 home runs and 81 RBIs, and his 34 doubles were one shy of his career high. With upcoming series vs. the Cardinals, Pirates and Dodgers, chances for days off are unlikely through the rest of the season.

"He explained it to me, which he doesn't even owe me an explanation," Bruce said of Baker. "I appreciate that."

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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