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Bruce lauds Larkin's BP advice, drills

MLB.com @m_sheldon

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Right fielder Jay Bruce may not know how much time he has left with the Reds, but he's not wasting it. Despite a near trade last week to the Blue Jays, and living with an uncertain future, Bruce has continued to go about his business in camp -- which includes working on his hitting.

To go about that, Bruce participated in some sessions with Hall of Famer Barry Larkin, who is at Spring Training as an instructor. Larkin has been helping Bruce with a drill that could help him do a better job of hitting pitches on the outside part of the plate.

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Right fielder Jay Bruce may not know how much time he has left with the Reds, but he's not wasting it. Despite a near trade last week to the Blue Jays, and living with an uncertain future, Bruce has continued to go about his business in camp -- which includes working on his hitting.

To go about that, Bruce participated in some sessions with Hall of Famer Barry Larkin, who is at Spring Training as an instructor. Larkin has been helping Bruce with a drill that could help him do a better job of hitting pitches on the outside part of the plate.

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"It's being more linear with your bat path than being rotational," Bruce explained on Sunday. "I think it's gone well. Obviously, we haven't played any games yet. I like how it feels. What the drill helps is something I always work on. It's just something else that can help.

"We talk all the time. We have an open line of communication. He's someone who has always been very gracious and honest with me."

Larkin's work with Bruce has been done in concert with Reds hitting coach Don Long.

"Don is involved. That's who all of this goes through," Bruce said.

Bruce has had down years of hitting the past two seasons. In 2015, he batted .226/.294/.434, but he still had 26 homers and 87 RBIs.

Historically, Bruce has struggled with his pitch selection on the outer half of the plate. According to zone profiles by BrooksBaseball.net, when he chased outside the strike zone to the middle or lower half of the plate last season, he was 20-for-133 (.150). He had his highest swing-and-miss rate low and away, whiffing on 49 of 74 pitches or 66 percent of the time.

The drill Larkin suggested helped take Bruce's hands to the ball instead of his body.

"I'm just a little quick with my front side," Bruce said. "This helps with not being so quick with my front side and trusting your hands. It works on literally both sides of the field. It works on the left-center-field gap and it works on pulling the ball correctly, too. The best way to explain it is it works to clean up your bat path."

Bruce appreciated having a Hall of Fame player like Larkin to help him improve.

"I'm all ears. He's someone who has a lot of experience," Bruce said. "I'm always open to listen to get information from anybody who is willing to give it."

Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Mark My Word, follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook and listen to his podcast.

 

Cincinnati Reds, Jay Bruce