Jay Bruce had made 899 appearances in the big leagues through Sunday and had never played first base.
The Reds took a chance and started their Gold Glove right fielder at first base Monday against the Cubs because Joey Votto is still nursing a sore knee and Brayan Pena is out on paternity leave.
Todd Frazier could have played first, but the Reds have a surplus of outfielders. This was their way of getting their best eight position players on the field. Ryan Ludwick started in left field with Billy Hamilton in center and Skip Schumaker in right.
“I’m banking on the fact that I’m a baseball player, that I’m a good athlete,” Bruce said, “and that I have confidence in my ability to play anywhere on the field if they need me to.”
Bruce played first base exclusively until he was 16, but had never done so professionally. He told manager Bryan Price a couple weeks ago if the Reds needed him to play first, he could. He takes grounders at first base every once in a while to break up the monotony of batting practice. When Price asked Bruce on Monday when he could be ready, Bruce said, “Tonight.”
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