Just as the Cincinnati Reds were about to get their All-Star closer back from injury, another key star has gone down. Slugger Jay Bruce needs surgery to repair torn meniscus in his left knee and is expected to miss at least 3-4 weeks.
Reds beat guy John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer reported first that Bruce was hurt seriously. Bruce pinch hit Sunday, telling manager Bryan Price he felt good enough to swing a bat, but running from first to third might be a problem. Evidently, an examination Sunday night revealed the damage.
Missing him for a month won't cripple the Reds, who are 5 1/2 games behind first-place Milwaukee in the NL Central, but it's another hurdle to overcome. Bruce has finished in the top 10 of NL MVP voting in each of the past two seasons and has averaged 30 homers with a 120 OPS-plus since 2010. He is the Reds best hitter other than Joey Votto, though Bruce has gotten off to a slow start — .218/.355/.366 — this season, probably in part because of his knee problems.
The Reds have sustained several big injuries already, including left-hander Aroldis Chapman, who might be activated Friday for the first time this season since taking a line drive off his head during spring training. He recently threw 101 mph in a rehab inning. That's the good news. The bad is, the likes of right-hander Mat Latos and left-hander Tony Cingrani remain on the disabled list. The team also has been without catcher Devin Mesoraco, utility man Skip Schumaker and left-handed relief specialist Sean Marshall at various times.
And now Bruce. Who will replace him on the roster and in right field? Schumaker and Chris Heisey figure to play a lot in right. The Reds just designated Roger Bernadina for assignment, so he's in limbo. Donald Lutz has been mashing at Class AA Pensacola, but he's been banged up over the past 10 days or so.
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