Jay Bruce hit a home run Thursday night that won a fan a pick-up truck. Asked if he had ever won a fan a truck, he said, “No. Not even a car.”
It was Bruce’s fifth home run in seven games and three traveled far enough to qualify for a day in the life of a long distance trucker. All three covered more than 450 feet and the 456-footer he hit in St. Louis was the longest ever hit by a left-handed batter in Busch Stadium III, opened in 2006.
He has 26 home runs, 33 doubles and 84 RBI. He is one of only 10 players in the majors with at least 26 homers, 33 doubles and 84 RBI.
SO GUESS WHAT he said after Thursday’s game.
“I’m embarrassed,” he said. “I am embarrassed with my season.”
Bruce has many heavy-handed and vociferous critics, mostly because of his .229 batting average and his 135 strikeouts.
Nobody, though, is more critical of Jay Bruce than Jay Bruce himself. He probably boos himself in the shower.
“I am embarrassed, I am. I really am,” he said. “There are a lot of different ways to be good and driving in runs is good. But I should have 100 RBI, easily, every year. I should hit 30 home runs, hit 40 doubles and I should hit for a respectable average. And I’m not doing it.
“I’m a little off the mark with the average, but it is what it is,” he added. “It is something I really work on and something I take a lot of pride in.”
WHILE MOST PLAYERS would be happy, even content, with 26 homers, 33 doubles and 84 RBI with 10 games left in the season, Bruce isn’t. Not even close because he expects so much more out of himself.
“I’m very realistic with myself,” he said. “I’m not somebody who sugar coats anything personally. I understand that if anybody knows I’m not where I should be, it’s me. I expected a lot more this year coming off the injury and feeling healthy, feeling great.”
AND BRUCE REFUSES to pat himself on his broad back for his hustle and his defensive prowess.
“All that stuff for me is a prerequisite for just going on the field — hustling and playing defense. It’s like my mom used to tell me, ‘You can be an idiot, but you can shut up in class.’ It doesn’t matter how good or bad you are in baseball, you can hustle and you play hard.
“I come from the Scott Rolen School of Baseball,” he said, referring to the former Reds third baseman known for total all-out play every second he was on the field. “He was the best. That’s the absolute least I can do is hustle and play hard.
“I do take a lot of pride in my defense, too, so I can help the team that way,” he added. “But I’m just not where I want to be. I hope people understand and respect that.”
WITH THE NEW YORK Mets in town, Bruce was asked if he thought about what almost happened, or was rumored to be close to happening. Right down to the trade deadline on July 31, there were reports that Bruce was going to the Mets. At the last moment, the Mets acquired Yoenis Cespedes.
“I don’t think about it and it looks as if the Mets made a good decision,” he said. “Cespedes has done a great job for them.”
Cespedes has 35 homers, 22 since the All-Star break. Seventeen of those home runs came after the Mets acquired him from the Detroit Tigers for a couple of trinkets.
“At the end of the day, it was just talk, just rumors about me going to the Mets,” said Bruce. “Who knows? I don’t know how close it was. It was something that didn’t happen and I’m still with the Reds and excited that I’m still here.”
And if the truth be known, he has nothing to be embarrassed about. Disappointment? Sure. Embarrassment? Too harsh. Way too harsh.