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Bruce prioritizes feeling good over losing weight

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- This offseason was pretty much a routine one at home in Houston for Reds right fielder Jay Bruce. Following a month off, weightlifting began the first week of November and baseball activity commenced after Christmas.

The one difference this time? Bruce didn't slim down like in years past and made no changes to his weight. That was entirely by design.

"I'm not as light but I still feel great," Bruce said Tuesday. "I really stopped worrying about my weight so much and focused rather on how I felt. I just let my performance, the strength, the way I was able to move and run and stuff like that, tell me what I needed to know."

Bruce, who weighed 217 pounds last season, batted .262 with a .329 on-base percentage, 30 home runs and a career-best 109 RBIs in 160 games.

"I'm about where I was, weight-wise, at the end of the year," said Bruce, who turns 27 in April. "Not a ton of change. In years past, I was really focused on losing weight. I'm just getting in the best shape that I could. I think the biggest thing is applying the strength. ... These days, it's more about the functional strength and using it rather than just getting big, bulky and strong."

Bruce was the latest early arrival to Reds camp, which is scheduled to have all position players report Wednesday for physicals and the first full-squad workout.

"My offseason was great. I am ready to go," Bruce said. "It's exciting to be back. Different look this year, that's exciting as well. I look forward to the next month and a half, for everybody to get on the same page and we'll get this train rolling in the right direction."

Mark Sheldon is a reporter for Read his blog, Mark My Word, and follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon.
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