CINCINNATI -- It took a total of 18 days for Reds right fielder Jay Bruce to go from having left knee surgery to getting back to the starting lineup.
Bruce, who was activated from the disabled list on Wednesday but did not play at Washington, batted fourth in Friday's series opener vs. the Cardinals.
"I worked hard to get back," Bruce said. "The medical staff is great. They helped me along the way. As professional athletes, we have the opportunity to come in and have a team full of people doing whatever they can to help you recover the quickest."
Bruce had arthroscopic surgery on May 5 to repair torn meniscus cartilage in his left knee after he was bothered by it for several weeks. It affected him at the plate, as he was batting .216 with three home runs and 14 RBIs prior to the surgery.
Originally, Bruce was expected to miss up to a month, but he made such rapid progress that he could return ahead of schedule.
"I got basically three weeks of complete and utter rehab. It was a very easy surgery," Bruce said. "Fortunately, we had [four] off-days in that span, so I only missed 13-14 games, which is really important to me."
The Reds' lineup often has sputtered this season, especially with injuries taking out Bruce, Joey Votto and Devin Mesoraco already. Manager Bryan Price did not want to put too much emphasis on Bruce's bat, however.
"I don't think I'll discuss expectations," Price said. "What I am happy about is how quickly he rebounded from the injury, No. 1, and No. 2, how badly he wants to come back and help the club. He's hitting fourth in the lineup because he's an impact bat. [But] he hasn't played for a couple of weeks."