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.
Plenty of information to come on Reds.com/MLB.com following the latest Reds shutout defeat on Saturday — a 1-0 final vs. the Brewers. Cincinnati has lost four of five after it had won eight of nine heading into San Diego.
Here are some quotes that did not make it into the game story:
“Homer pitched a great game. He wasn’t particularly sharp. He had a couple of leadoff walks that he worked around. To think that he went out there and pitched eight innings and was able to not only compete but hold Milwaukee to one run, that being a first run, was phenomenal. It gave us an opportunity to win the game.” — Reds manager Bryan Price on Homer Bailey
“It just took me an inning or two to find my groove. They scored in the first and I held them at bay after that. Hats off to Matt Garza. I guess I know what Tim Hudson feels like now. It’s a really good hitting team. They came in with good pitching today. It was a tough game.” Bailey on the Brewers.
“I just try and do my job. I’m just happy to assist there, and our infielders are some of, if not the best, in the league defensively overall. We take a lot of pride in our defense, and we were able to keep runs off the board.” — Reds RF Jay Bruce, who had third-out outfield assists in both the sixth and seventh innings.
“Obviously, after losing four in a row we needed a start like that. … He was able to come in and stop it. I wish we could put some more runs up, but their guy was pretty good, too. You have to give credit to him.” — Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy.
“That was really nice. We were talking earlier today that we needed one of our pitchers to have a big game. That was a big game.” — Brewers manager Ron Roenicke.
The Reds had every chance to return home like conquering heroes. They came to San Diego 6-1 on the road trip fresh from a four-game sweep of a first-place but reeling Giants team. Thoughts of an 8-2 or 9-1 road trip danced in their heads.
Instead, they go home 6-4 after being swept three games by the Padres. Two shutout losses and two runs over 27 innings total. Lousy ending to what could have been a great trip. Plenty about the 3-0 loss on Wednesday and the missed opportunity will be on Reds.com/MLB.com soon.
“It’s hard to swallow after what we did with San Francisco and come back here and lost these three games in a row,” said Johnny Cueto through translator Tomas Vera. “It’s part of the game and we have a lot of games ahead of us. We just have to keep going.”
The off day on Thursday could be huge. It’s the first one after 16-straight games and a stretch of 16 of 19 on the road. The first place Brewers come to GABP to begin a season-high 11 game homestand heading into the All-Star break. Milwaukee, just swept in a two-game series at Toronto, has dropped three in a row. The Reds have played them well in both series this season, going 5-2 for the season.
Opportunity awaits again. What will the Reds do with it?
“It’s a chance to really do something in the division,” Reds manager Bryan Price said. “Obviously you come back and I’m sure guys are disappointed, not just disappointed, but upset about this series here. It’s time to really get after it and try to make up some ground against Milwaukee. It’s a great opportunity to do something in the division.”
I wrote about Manny Parra before Tuesday’s game because he had been idle for so long, having not pitched since throwing four pitches for balls vs. Toronto on June 20. Sure enough, Parra got into Tuesday’s 8-2 loss when he replaced Mike Leake in the bottom of the sixth.
However, Parra threw just one pitch. It was a strike to Seth Smith. But the at-bat ended when Jake Goebbert was thrown out at second base trying to steal. Parra, the team leader with 34 appearances, was lifted for a pinch-hitter in the top of the seventh.
Reds manager Bryan Price was glad Parra got in at all as a way to get him warmed up and throwing. But he saw it as a test because he had been trying not to use him lately.
“We kind of intentionally kept him out of games for a while,” Price said. “We needed a test drive to see how he came through that.”
Why had Parra been out?
“His shoulder was cranky,” Price said. “We worked through that, he could have pitched, but we felt if we didn’t pitch him, it gave him a better chance to continue without any flare-ups. By the end of that San Francisco series, he was feeling much better.”
One of the things that came during Monday’s 1-0 Reds loss to the Padres was a rarity. In the ninth inning after a leadoff single, Joey Votto was lifted for pinch-runner Chris Heisey.
It’s the latest sign all is not going swimmingly with Votto’s left leg, which had a quadriceps strain above the knee. Votto didn’t want to talk about the injury before the game on Monday, which is his prerogative. But he is maintaining that if he’s playing, consider him 100 percent.
Reds manager Bryan Price has maintained that he knows Votto isn’t at 100 percent.
“It’s an indication he’s not running at full speed,” Price said on Tuesday. “I think that’s apparent. The other part was that Chris Heisey was a better option to steal a base there and that was a consideration in that situation with a guy like Street in there that doesn’t have a lot of innings where he gives up two, three or four hits in an inning. He’s had a nice season. It was one of those risk-reward moments.”
Votto, who lacks a homer since his June 10 activation from the DL, could be a future pinch-runner candidate in my mind if he isn’t able to run at full speed. In the short term, that could be tough at times since the Reds are short one man on the bench.
It’s still a week away but the Reds will have a day-night doubleheader next Tuesday, July 8, vs. the Cubs to make up for a rainout. The Reds will likely call up someone to make one of the starts while Johnny Cueto is lined up to make the other.
Triple-A Louisville’s rotation lines up to have Jair Jurrjens start on that Tuesday.
“We’ve got some things in motion but we haven’t finalized anything yet,” Reds manager Bryan Price said. “There are a few considerations down there. We still have time to move people around to get that right guy. But we also want to get more opinion from our Triple-A staff, etc.”
The Bats’ rotation also has Chien-Ming Wang is 8-5 with a 3.48 ERA and like Jurrjens (2-3, 4.46), has big league experience. But neither are on the 40-man roster.
LHP David Holmberg is on the 40-man roster and doing much better since coming off of Louisville’s DL after a shoulder injury. Since June 11, he has a 1.99 ERA. Overall, he is 0-4 with a 5.75 ERA. Holmberg was acquired from the D-backs in the three-way trade that sent Ryan Hanigan to the Rays.
“He’s sharper,” Price said. “His velocity is back up a little bit. I think he’s touching 92. His average fastball was 90 the last game. I think it does speak that he’s feeling a lot better than he did in spring.”