Cincinnati Reds manager Dusty Baker plans to proceed with caution regarding the comeback of the recently activated Joey Votto, especially with his club holding a sizable NL Central lead.
While the former MVP is scheduled to make his return to the lineup in Wednesday’s series finale against the visiting Philadelphia Phillies, Baker won’t commit to anything beyond that.
“The plan’s going to change every day, depending on how he feels,” Baker said. “As of right now, he’ll probably start (Wednesday). Then we’ve got to watch him if there’s a long inning or whatever, if he gets sore or makes a wrong move. We’re going to try to preserve him and work him back in there.”
Votto, who hasn’t played since July 15 after having two operations to repair cartilage damage in his left knee, was activated from the disabled list Tuesday after rehab assignments at Class A Dayton and Triple-A Louisville. He wasn’t in the lineup, though, for Cincinnati’s 2-1 win over Philadelphia later that night as Jay Bruce homered for the third straight game.
The 2010 NL MVP was hitting .342 at the time of the injury, but the Reds (83-54) have gone 33-16 without him and hold an 8 1/2-game lead over St. Louis.
“I don’t think I’ll (be) 100 percent until sometime in the offseason,” Votto said. “I would like to think I’ll be able to get through all the games and recover as we move through September and all the way to the end of October.”
Votto is 6 for 16 with one homer and two doubles against Roy Halladay, who will take the hill for Philadelphia (65-71) on Wednesday.
Halladay (8-7, 4.02 ERA) allowed four runs in 4 2-3 innings of Philadelphia’s 8-5, 10-inning win over Atlanta on Friday, bringing his ERA above 4.00 this late in a season for the first time since finishing the 2004 campaign with a 4.20 ERA for Toronto.
The right-hander, who had gone 4-1 with a 2.75 ERA in his previous five starts, said he wasn’t feeling well the night before but attempted to pitch through it.
“I tried to battle as much as I could,” Halladay said. “I just didn’t have enough there by the fifth inning.”
Halladay didn’t have his best stuff Aug. 20 versus the Reds, giving up five runs and 10 hits in seven innings while receiving plenty of run support in a 12-5 victory. He’s 3-0 with a 1.85 ERA in his last five starts against Cincinnati, including a no-hitter in Game 1 of the 2010 NL Division Series.
Mike Leake will oppose Halladay as he looks to help the Reds avoid an 18th loss in 22 meetings against the Phillies. Leake (7-8, 4.45), who went 0-5 over his first six starts, has a chance to reach .500 for the first time this year as he bids to win a third consecutive start.
He defeated Houston on Friday, allowing two runs and striking out six in six innings of a 9-3 win.
“That’s great. He’s closing on .500, which is a long ways from where he came from,” Baker said of Leake.
The right-hander, though, had one of his worst outings versus Halladay last month, giving up a career worst-tying seven runs and 10 hits in 4 1-3 innings to drop him to 0-2 with an 8.03 ERA in four career starts against Philadelphia.
Jimmy Rollins became the fourth player in Phillies history to reach 2,000 hits Tuesday.
“It was great, but 3,000 is better,” Rollins said. “That’s the one that’s celebrated. So it’s just another hit.”
Rollins, though, is only 2 for 10 lifetime against Leake.