Bruce, Votto, post-break rotation

After slumping right fielder Jay Bruce was benched for two games to get a break, it might seem odd to see him batting second on Saturday vs. the Mets and ace lefty Johan Santana. It was only the second time this season Bruce batted in the No. 2 spot.

But there was a method to Dusty Baker’s madness.

“It’s back-to-back lefties vs. Santana because he’s actually pitched better vs. righties than lefties,” Baker said. Maybe if Willy [Taveras] gets on, he’ll get a good pitch to hit. And he’ll be in front of Joey [Votto] too so we’ll see.”

Lefties came into tonight batting .267 vs. Santana this season. Right-handers were batting .221.

Reds lineup:

Taveras 8
Bruce 9
Votto 3
Phillips 4
Hernandez 2
Encarnacion 5
Gomes 7
Hairston Jr. 6
Cueto 1

Speaking of Votto, he has a career-high 13-game hitting streaking going into Saturday. He’s batting .357 in 17 games since his return from a month on the DL with depression. And, get this, he doesn’t feel fully locked in at the plate yet.

“I’m feeling a lot better since coming back but I still have stuff to work on constantly,” Votto said. “I feel like my strength is coming back to where it was before. I’m not quite where I was but I feel like I’m headed in the right direction.

“I made sure that when I came back, I tried to be as mechanically sound as possible. Sometimes during the year if you’re a little stronger, you don’t have to quite as exact or make mistakes or miss and still find good results. Ideally, you want both combined. That’s what the great hitters do.”

Before Votto spent 21 games on the DL, the Reds were 26-21 with a .257 team average. While he was out, they went 8-13 and batted .217. The Reds are 8-9 since his return coming into tonight’s game.

“It really hurt when were missing Joey,” Baker said. “It hurt bad, especially when you don’t have an high-octane offense.”

Here is your Reds rotation coming out of the All-Star break:

Homer Bailey, Bronson Arroyo, Aaron Harang, Johnny Cueto and Micah Owings.

Baker and Dick Pole wanted to set up the rotation so no one got too many days off. Cueto will be pitching on seven days rest and Harang will be getting five days. Owings gets the longest break with 10 days of rest.

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If Santana has a harder time with lefties than righties, why aren’t we playing the rest of our left-handed lineup. Ex. Dickerson over Taveras, Nix over Gomes. I’d love to know Baker’s “thinking” on that.

Real answer: Dusty is just BSing about his reason why Bruce is playing tonight vs. Santana – obviously it’s a terrible idea to have him play tonight and sit last night vs. a much easier pitcher. But Baker had to come up with some stupid reason to rationalize his “decision making.” Clearly he either doesn’t believe it or doesn’t understand that he should apply that principle to the rest of the lineup.

Ditto here. Baker has lost his mind. Bruce just gave Baker another excuse by breaking his wrist. I sure hope that Bruce bounces back it looked awful. I would be very surprised to find Bruce back this year.

So where does Volquez fit into this? Who is going to be sent down or traded to make room for Volquez by the end of July?

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