Getting It Straight

It was rather to be expected that Cole Bruce and Ryan Russ would be lumped together. Two players from Texas, not drafted out of college who signed with the Dodgers as free agents within a week of each other in June 2004.

They both joined Ogden at that time and were teammates ever after- at Columbus and Vero Beach last season. They even shared the fact that there were those who could never get their names in the right order- was it Bruce Cole and Russ Ryan?

Once again this season there were virtually joined at the hip as they were assigned to Vero Beach. Only this time, while Bruce made a place for himself, Russ never really did. He could get only parttime employment in the outfield and didn't hit much when he got the opportunity. Undrafted free agents who don't hit don't last long so Russ was released after compiling a .233 average.

So, Bruce went on, now a solo act. Hit he could so manager Luis Salazar liked to get him into the lineup. The question was where? A shortage at shortstop saw him begin the season at that position but he quickly proved he didn't have the mobility there so was replaced. He wound up playing some third, some first and some D.H'ing.

Along the way he's showed some pop so with a .284 average and 10 home runs, he's been promoted to Jacksonville. There he played some third until Blake DeWitt came up behind him and took that spot. He's also tried some first but there the Suns have both Craig Brazell and A. J. Zapp, two pretty good hitters with a lot more experience.

So, it seems Bruce is destined to play the part of somebody coming off the bench. Trouble is he isn't hitting at all. He's 24 now so it would seem that he could be crowded out just like his buddy Russ was down at Vero.

It's not easy being undrafted .Rather, it's always a case of "What have you done for me lately?" Bruce has beaten the odds back enough before that people in Vero finally started getting the name straight. He'll have to move his game up to do the same in Jacksonville.

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