Ewing recalls long walks home with Bruce after baseball practice. "We'd talk about someday getting to the majors," Ewing says, "and then we'd go to his house, sit down and have some ramen noodles and talk some more about getting there. We didn't know anything back then, definitely not how hard it is to live that dream."
Bruce is making it look easy—through Sunday he was hitting .342—though after his torrid start, he had to battle through a 3-for-19 minislump. Last Thursday, Reds manager Dusty Baker gave Bruce the day off after a second straight 1-for-4 game, but the following night Bruce led off with a home run against the Boston Red Sox. When he stepped to the plate for his next at bat, the sellout crowd at Great American howled, "Bruuuuuuuce." It's something he'll have to get used to. "Every day I feel more settled here," says Bruce, who recently moved with his longtime girlfriend into an apartment in Covington, Ky., across the Ohio River from the ballpark. "But everything's happening so fast."
So fast that he has barely had time to notice that he's no longer the Next Big Thing in Cincinnati—Jay Bruce is already the Big Thing.