Sometimes a coach has to tell a player: It's all in your head.

That is the case with Jay Bruce and his search for consistency. Bruce and hitting coach Brook Jacoby have studied video of Bruce when he's good and when he's bad.

"It don't think there's anything with his swing that he can do," Jacoby said. "It's his mental approach and trying to do too much at times. We've looked at his swing when he's going really well and when he's having a tough time. There's nothing we can put our finger on as far as his mechanics.

"We've been working with him on the mental side, trying to control that."

Bruce hit .252/.327/.514 with 34 home runs and 99 RBI last season. In terms of home runs, RBI and slugging percentage, it was the best of his five years in the big leagues. But his monthly numbers show how wildly he fluctuates:

April .296, seven home runs, 17 RBI
May .229, four home runs, 15 RBI
June .253, six home runs, 22 RBI
July .213, four home runs, nine RBI
August .290, seven home runs, 21 RBI
September .228, six home runs, 14 RBI

"Consistency has been my Achilles' heal," Bruce said. "I've got to work on a way to limit those downs and ups. Be more level all year long."

Again, Jacoby sees this as a mental thing. When Bruce is going bad, it's usually because he's chasing off-speed pitches out of the strike zone.

"It becomes pitch selection," Jacoby said. "When he puts pressure on himself to get something done, he'll end up swinging at bad pitches."