CINCINNATI — Joey Votto is back in the Reds lineup for Tuesday’s game against Los Angeles.
The Reds announced Tuesday afternoon that Votto had been re-instated to the active roster off the 15-day disabled list following a two-game rehab assignment with Triple-A Louisville. Votto hasn’t played for the Reds since May 15 because of a distal quadriceps strain in his left knee.
He will be back in his familiar No. 3 spot in the order against Dodgers righthander Josh Beckett. Votto had been batting second in the lineup at the time of his being placed on the DL but, at least for the time being, is back in the spot he has spent the majority of his career.
"I don’t care," said Votto about hitting third. "It doesn’t matter to me where they put me at all as long as I can contribute."
This has been an odd season for Votto when it comes to contributing. He’s hitting just .257 and while his on-base percentage is a respectable .410 it and his slugging percentage of .449 are below his career numbers of .419 and .541. Only 14 of the 35 hits he has collected this season have been for extra bases.
Votto went 2-for-6 in his two games with Louisville against Pawtucket, Boston’s top minor league affiliate.
"Baseball was fun again down there," said Votto. "I love the guys down there and it was a really good time. It reminded me of part of the reason why I play baseball. It has nothing really to do with the actual game but playing with teammates and having a good time down there. It really kind of shook it up for me."
Votto had a tone of near surprise when he made that statement, almost as if he got more out of the two games than just being able to play first base and hit off of live pitching for the first time in almost a month.
"It’s a challenge up here both struggling, being injured and most importantly the team not playing well," said Votto. "Going down there was kind of a breath of fresh air, combined with playing. This is exactly where I want to be and where I need to be. Sometimes nice little surprises happen in life, and that was one of them."
Manager Bryan Price said he spoke with Votto on Monday night after Votto had returned to Cincinnati from and then again Tuesday morning before making the final decision.
"We went into the situation with Votto with the commitment that he would be 100 percent before we brought him back," said Price. "That was unrealistic in three weeks. He probably won’t be until next year. We didn’t want him playing at 50 percent."
Votto had played in all 39 games for the Reds up to the point he went on the DL. Price said it’s reasonable to believe that Votto will get periodic days off as the season progresses.
Price also said that Mat Latos is tentatively scheduled to make his first start of the season Saturday in Milwaukee against the NL Central leading Brewers. Latos threw 5 2/3 innings for Louisville on Monday night before rain put an end to a 3-1 win for the Bats. He allowed one run on four hits and reached 82 pitches. He threw an additional 18 pitches in an enclosed area underneath Pawtucket’s McCoy Stadium.
Latos will have a bullpen session on Thursday and, if all goes well, will start Saturday. Price said no decision has been made yet on how the rotation will be adjusted, although Saturday would be the normal turn for left-hander Tony Cingrani. Cingrani has lost five straight decisions, including Monday’ 6-2 defeat in which he didn’t make it out of the fifth inning.
"Cingrani is going through what a lot of guys go through," said Price. "It is hard to stick here. There are options pending. It’s likely Cingrani will be affected by activating Mat."
Latos said he was pleased with his outing Monday, even if he wasn’t pleased with having to make it Triple-A. He also saw good signs from Votto.
"I throw a baseball for a living. I don’t assess (hitters), but I will say this, from a pitcher’s standpoint I watched a couple of his swings that he took and he looked great," said Latos. "I really haven’t seen Joey take as aggressive of swings the couple that I saw. They were real aggressive, short and quick swings."