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Game 92: Cubs at Reds

I’m off today through Sunday from game coverage but Manny Randhawa will have all the Reds news from the ballpark on Reds.com and MLB.com.

I will be headed up to Minneapolis Saturday to start working the All-Star Game. I hope to have some extra stuff on here on the days leading to the game, including The Futures game and Todd Frazier in the Home Run Derby.

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Closing in on the Brewers

The Reds were 8 1/2 games out of first place behind the Brewers on June 20. They were seven games back as recently as Saturday. Milwaukee’s fourth-straight loss and the Reds’ fifth straight win has that distance at 2 1/2 games — the smallest since April 7.

On Thursday, there will be a chance at the Reds’ first five-game series sweep since July 29-Aug. 1, 1976, vs. the Padres. The last Reds five-game sweep of the Cubs was Sept. 2-5, 1931 at Redsland Field.

The full game story and updates on the injuries to Billy Hamilton and Brandon Phillips will be on MLB.com/Reds.com. Phillips was wearing a brace on his left thumb when he left the clubhouse.

Here are some postgame quotes that didn’t get into the story:

“Here we are, talking about defense again. And Cozy making a sensational play in the hole, a long throw, a bang-bang play. And the early plays to; great early plays by Brayan Pena at first base. It just seems like all I’m doing on my lineup cards is writing down notes about what great plays these guys are making defensively. And it’s been not just great to watch, but really a key to our success recently.” — Reds manager Bryan Price on Zack Cozart’s spectacular diving play and throw from the hole to rob Justin Ruggiano in the second inning.

“The best teams hit and pitch at the same time. We know pitching is going to carry us where we need to go. We said all along we have a capable offensive team. We’re starting to get rolling a little bit. It’s a good time to do it.” — Reds right fielder Jay Bruce, who has a five-game hitting streak and at least one RBI in each of those games and 10 total in that span.

Who’s on first? (Next)

Outfielder Ryan Ludwick’s new first baseman’s glove arrived on Wednesday. Ludwick will soon be the latest Red to start taking ground balls at first base.

Manager Bryan Price said it does have to mean anything more than his just taking grounders, but he’s also looking for options as the team moves forward with Joey Votto on the DL.

“I made a joke yesterday in the lunch room. I said we’ve got open tryouts for our outfielders for first base,” Price said on Wednesday. “It was kind of tongue-in-cheek but right now with the ability to have [Brayan] Pena, [Todd] Frazier and Jay [Bruce] to rotate through there, those are great options. I don’t want to have Jay over there a bunch. He’s a premier right fielder and we have a premier third baseman in Frazier. Pena is going to catch some. There is always that opportunity. I might have Frazier at third, Bruce in right field and want to have Pena behind the plate. There is another opportunity.”

Game 91: Cubs at Reds

Sorry for missing yesterday. I had to take the day off.

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How about that sky?!

I don’t normally post pictures like this here but we saw an orange sky over GABP tonight. It was exceptional and came at sunset as storm clouds passed to the south.

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Price, Bruce discuss first base

I will have much more on Jay Bruce playing first base for the Reds on Monday on MLB.com/Reds.com. Here are a couple of quotes that addressed the move.

“This is the Major Leagues. It’s the best in the world. It’s going to be a little quick I’m sure. I’m banking on the fact that I’m a baseball player and a good athlete and that I have confidence in myself and my abilities to play anywhere on the field if they need me to.” — Jay Bruce

“It also allows us to do some things in the outfield. What we do have is a surplus of outfielders. It gives us a chance to get Schumaker and Ludwick in the lineup. I knew with a doubleheader coming up [Tuesday], I had to get some guys who will be playing both games a day off either on the front or the back end. Today, it’s Cozart. That means Santiago is at short, which means we Frazier at third, which means we need a first baseman and today it will be Jay.

“If we don’t have Joey long term or a period of time he could miss, we have to look in-house at what our options are. I don’t think you’ll see Jay at first base often. It does allow us to utilize our bench players a little bit more. We have guys here that are playing part time but we’d like to play more.” — manager Bryan Price.

I found GM Walt Jocketty on the field and he had no news on Joey Votto’s status. Votto underwent tests on Monday for his troublesome left quadriceps.

Game 88: Bruce at 1B

For the first time in his big league or Minor League career, Jay Bruce is at first base today. As I type, he is taking groundballs there now. Bruce has been there periodically working out the past few weeks, including on Sunday. This is an interesting choice, to say the least, to take a superb defensive right fielder and put him at first base. Bruce hasn’t played anywhere other than right field for the Reds since he played center field on 8/10/08.

Brayan Pena, who has often played 1B this season, is still on paternity leave.

No moves regarding Joey Votto have been revealed yet.

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Four Reds are All Stars

The All-Star Game rosters were named on Sunday and there are four Reds players going to Minneapolis.

RHP Johnny Cueto
LHP Aroldis Chapman
3B Todd Frazier
C Devin Mesoraco

Cueto, Chapman and Frazier were voted in by the players. Mesoraco was a manager’s selection from Mike Matheny. Of this group, only Chapman has previously been a member of the All-Star team.

Full coverage on MLB.com and Reds.com.

Here is the NL All-Star roster:

Starters

C: Yadier Molina, Cardinals
1B: Paul Goldschmidt, D-backs
2B: Chase Utley, Phillies
SS: Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies
3B: Aramis Ramirez, Brewers
OF: Andrew McCutchen, Pirates
OF: Carlos Gomez, Brewers
OF: Yasiel Puig, Dodgers

Pitchers

LHP: Madison Bumgarner, Giants
LHP: Aroldis Chapman, Reds
RHP: Johnny Cueto, Reds
RHP: Zack Greinke, Dodgers
LHP: Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers
RHP: Craig Kimbrel, Braves
RHP: Pat Neshek, Cardinals
RHP: Francisco Rodrigue^, Brewers
RHP: Tyson Ross, Padres
RHP: Jeff Samardzija, Cubs/A’s * declared ineligible because of trade
RHP: Julio Teheran, Braves
RHP: Adam Wainwright, Cardinals
LHP: Tony Watson, Pirates
RHP: Jordan Zimmermann, Nationals

Reserves

C: Jonathan Lucroy, Brewers
C: Devin Mesoraco, Reds
1B: Freddie Freeman, Braves
2B: Dee Gordon, Dodgers
2B: Daniel Murphy, Mets
SS: Starlin Castro, Cubs
3B: Matt Carpenter, Cardinals
3B: Todd Frazier, Reds
OF: Charlie Blackmon, Rockies
OF: Josh Harrison, Pirates
OF: Hunter Pence, Giants
OF: Giancarlo Stanton, Marlins

Another day off for Votto

For the third time since June 27, Joey Votto was out of the Reds lineup vs. the Brewers on Sunday. It was a decision made by manager Bryan Price as Votto as continued to favor his left quadriceps strain near his knee.

“For Joey, it’s just a day off,” Price said. “We’re trying to be contentious of the fact that he is playing at well below 100 percent right now and trying to keep him as healthy as we can under the circumstances, which is challenging. He’s got some challenges, physically. I just thought it was a good idea to give him a day off today.”

Votto is hitting .250 with zero homers and 11 RBIs in 23 games since coming off the DL on June 10. He was 0-for-4 with three strikeouts in Saturday’s 1-0 loss. Todd Frazier started at first base on Sunday while Ramon Santiago played third base.

“We knew the process when we initially put Joey on the disabled list that when we got him back, we weren’t going to be able to get him to 100 percent over the course of the regular season,” Price said. “We decided to do some strengthening exercises and really work on getting the inflammation and a lot of the soreness out of there. We accomplished that to a certain degree. We knew we couldn’t get to 100 percent. Some days are better than others. This was my decision today not to play though I stay in contact with Joey on how he’s feeling. He didn’t ask to come out. I just thought it was a good day to give him a breather and reassess and get ready for tomorrow.”

There was some hullabaloo about Votto’s locker being cleaned out on Twitter this morning, too. It was really nothing. Since there was no morning batting practice, players were allowed to arrive later than normal. Votto came in after the media arrived today. He keeps two lockers — one for baseball stuff and one for his street clothes.

Game 87: Brewers at Reds

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