Jay Bruce and Jason Marquis Lead Cincinnati Reds to Victory


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The Cincinnati Reds entered Spring Training with just two minor question marks in their quest to return to contention in the National League Central division: hitting and pitching.  While the first week of exhibition games have not fully answered concerns in these areas, two players who have shown early indications of contributing to a possible turnaround were at it again on Sunday.  Rightfielder Jay Bruce and right-handed starter Jason Marquis led the charge as the Reds demolished the Seattle Mariners by a score of 10-1.

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OK, to say that Bruce “led” Cincinnati’s scoring on Sunday is a bit of a hedge since he connected for a home run after the Reds had already chased Mariners’ starter J.A. Happ.   But Bruce is leading the good feelings that are starting to build around the Cincinnati lineup, as he has a hit in each of his four spring games and is connecting solidly enough for us to hope that his injury woes are behind him.  Although he came back quickly from knee surgery last spring, he was never an offensive force and finished with the worst numbers of his career with 18 home runs, a .654 OPS and 84 OPS+.

A full season of full-strength Bruce would go a long way toward fixing an attack that ranked near the bottom of Major League teams in runs scored.

Marquis, meanwhile, is competing for one of two open rotation spots, available thanks to the off-season trades of Mat Latos and Alfredo Simon.  After holding the Cleveland Indians scoreless over two innings in the exhibition opener last week,  Marquis was back in action on Sunday.  This time out, he threw up three goose eggs at the Mariners while striking out three and walking none. The improved control and extended workload were encouraging signs for both Marquis and the Reds.

In fact, the Reds’ pitching staff did not give up a walk on the afternoon and faced only 31 batters in total, a fact that pleased Reds’ manager Bryan Price:

"Marquis had better command. All of our pitchers threw the ball well. We were only four over the minimum. It was good to see Raisel throw the ball better."

Yes, yes, it’s still very early, and there are still a few weeks until Opening Day, but if you look at it another way … Holy Guano!  There are only a few weeks until Opening Day!

In other words, every bit of good news for the Reds at this point in the game is another stepping stone that they can use for a solid start to the regular season.  So, for now, Jay Bruce and Jason Marquis are looking pretty good.

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