CINCINNATI -- Looking at his batting average, a lowly .188 heading into Wednesday, it would be easy to say Reds right fielder Jay Bruce is in the same hitting wilderness as he was during his subpar 2009 season.But Bruce hasn't been a lost ball in the tall weeds. He's scorched line drives more often, only to have the misfortune of a waiting glove that catches it. That changed some on Sunday, when Bruce hit two home runs vs. the Pirates. On Tuesday vs. the Dodgers, he hit an RBI triple in the second inning. "For a few games, I was kind of feeling my swing through the zone. I'm getting back to just letting it go and swinging the bat with some authority," Bruce said on Wednesday. "I can't try to be guiding anything. I have to swing how I swing, get a good pitch to hit and try to hit it hard somewhere. "If I hit the ball hard and it happens to get caught, it gets caught. As long as I'm hitting the ball hard and not giving away at-bats, I feel good about it." Bruce has also improved his pitch selection and has taken several key walks of late. His walk in the eighth inning on Tuesday led to the game-winning runs. He came into Wednesday with five walks and 11 strikeouts. Manager Dusty Baker still believes the 23-year-old Bruce, who batted .223 with 22 homers in 2009, has a high ceiling as he develops while in the Majors. "He's probably been our toughest luck guy here, without a doubt," Baker said. "This is why we'll probably stick with him longer than probably anybody out there. He's the youngest and the guy with the highest ceiling for the longest period of time because of his age, his strength, his ability, his speed, his arm strength. He works hard to be a good right fielder." Defensively, Bruce has made several good plays already this season and takes a lot of pride in his work in the field. In the top of the eighth on Tuesday, his backhanded catch on the run on a James Loney drive prevented the go-ahead run from scoring. "Dusty always said if someone takes one from you, take two from them," Bruce said. "My job is to catch the ball and make all the plays I can and help the pitchers."
Chapman to make third Triple-A start
CINCINNATI -- Reds prospect Aroldis Chapman will take the mound on Thursday for his third start for Triple-A Louisville in Indianapolis. First pitch is at 7 p.m. ET, and the game will be streamed live on MiLB.TV.Over his previous two starts, Chapman has an 0.93 ERA with six hits allowed and 10 strikeouts in 9 2/3 innings. He also has five walks, including four in his last outing on Saturday. In that game vs. Columbus, he allowed one earned run and one hit over five innings and took the loss in a 3-1 decision. Chapman threw 87 pitches in the outing and eclipsed 100 mph four times, including 102, but was mostly in the 94-97-mph range. Command was an issue early on as he needed 28 pitches in the first inning and 62 pitches through three frames. "That's part of any power pitcher's growth," Louisville manager Rick Sweet said after the game. "We went through it here with Homer Bailey. He couldn't get to a sixth inning. Not because he didn't have the game under control, but because he threw too many dang pitches. That's just the way their games are. Efficiency is important."
Stubbs sits against Kuroda
CINCINNATI -- Center fielder Drew Stubbs was out of the starting lineup on Wednesday as Chris Dickerson took his place in the leadoff spot. Stubbs has been slumping all season and came into the night in an 0-for-18 skid with nine strikeouts."I just thought Dickerson had a better chance of hitting [Hiroki] Kuroda with all that stuff he throws," manager Dusty Baker said.
Votto is a running man
CINCINNATI -- First baseman Joey Votto didn't notch his first steal of the season until April 12 in Miami. Now he's tied with Drew Stubbs for the team lead with four steals in six attempts. Manager Dusty Baker wouldn't disclose how much of that was because of Votto's initiative or if it was instructed from the dugout."It's something I don't want to expand on. The other team reads this," Baker said. "It's something I encourage. It's something we've all been working on. We have guys here with the ability to steal. Joey had the ability last year. He was sliding too early and sometimes didn't get to the base. He's worked on sliding hard, leads and jumps." If Votto steals with success, Baker felt it could add more pressure to the opposition's pitching and defense. During the seventh inning of Tuesday's win, Votto was caught trying to swipe second base in the seventh inning. "They tricked Joey a little bit," Baker said. "[Dodgers pitcher Jon Link] did a real high leg kick the first pitch, and the second pitch, he slide stepped. That's a sign they thought he might run, too. Now it's up to Joey to recognize when they do these things."
Reds have Earth Day plans
CINCINNATI -- Chris Dickerson and his organization, Players for the Planet, will be involved in several environment initiatives on Thursday to mark Earth Day. From 7 a.m.-5 p.m. ET at the Western Hills Kroger, fans can recycle old televisions, VCRs, computer monitors, personal computers, hard drives and other electronics. Dickerson, Jay Bruce and Drew Stubbs will appear from 12-1 p.m.
Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.