Only bumps for Bruso thus far are on the bus |

Only bumps for Bruso thus far are on the bus

Steve Yingling, Tribune sports editor

Except for several cramped and long bus rides, minor league baseball is going smoothly for rookie pitcher Greg Bruso.

The former South Tahoe High and UC Davis hurler has quickly asserted himself as one of Salem-Keizer’s top arms.

In five appearances for the Volcanoes, Bruso’s stat sheet reads a 2-1 record, 1.23 earned run average, 22 strikeouts, five walks and one wild pitch. His minuscule ERA is second-best among the Volcanoes’ 17 pitchers.

“I’m throwing strikes, but probably the biggest thing is I’m hitting my spots,” said the right-hander.

Even though the Volcanoes have slipped back to .500 with two recent defeats, Bruso has done his part to keep the team in third place in the Northwest League standings. He’s won two games since losing his first start and hasn’t allowed an earned run in his past three outings.

“Pitching this well is super,” he said. “I always expected to pitch this well, but when something like this happens it feels extra (special).

“It feels like I’m at Davis right now. The guys are close and I feel right at home on the mound.”

Bruso, a 2002 NCAA Division II All-American, has been gaining confidence because of the way his team is playing defense, too.

“Definitely the defense is better than Davis, especially in the outfield where they are making some diving plays and giving me a lot more confidence on the mound,” Bruso said.

Everywhere Bruso looks in the clubhouse he sees former major leaguers. His manager, Fred Stanley, played for the New York Yankees and pitching coach Trevor Wilson and coach Steve Decker wore Giants’ uniforms. In addition, San Francisco Giants’ roving coaches Lee Smith and Willie McGee have worked with the Volcanoes from time to time.

“I’m meeting all these greats. All they try do is help you anyway they can,” he said. “Being who they are, it makes what they have to say a little more important.”

What Bruso hasn’t received so far is much feedback about his pitching performances, and that’s fine by him.

“They say good game, but they really don’t say much,” Bruso said. “I don’t want them to rant and rave about how I’m pitching. If they did, then they’d probably show the reverse when you lose. They’re kind of even with you. I like the way they coach and it’s going well so far.”

One mechanical change they are trying to make, though, is in Bruso’s direction to the plate.

“In college I was throwing more across my body; they’re trying to get me to throw more stepping toward the pitch,” Bruso said. “But when we get on the mound, they want us to pitch like we know how to pitch.”

As for his introduction to the minor league’s infamous bus rides, Bruso isn’t looking forward to the next one to Boise, Idaho.

“Our bus is small and we have to double up,” he said. “We have movies and maybe you can fall asleep sometimes.”

Bruso next start is Friday in Boise. Fans can pick up a radio broadcast of the game on the Volcanoes’ Internet site:

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