A blister on Johnny Cueto’s index finger has healed well enough for him to return to action.
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The same can’t be said for teammate Joey Votto’s knee.
While Cueto will be on the mound, the Reds learned they must continue to get by without their top hitter Tuesday night against the visiting Arizona Diamondbacks.
Batting .342 and leading the majors with 36 doubles and a .465 on-base percentage, Votto will miss three to four weeks after he undergoes surgery to repair torn cartilage in his left knee. The 2010 NL MVP hurt his knee late last month but continued to play before sitting out Monday.
“It is in my best interest and in the best interest of the team to do it now so that I can be healthy during the last two months of the pennant race,” Votto said.
This could be a major blow for a Cincinnati club that is currently fighting with Pittsburgh for first place in the NL Central. The Reds (50-39), whose six-game winning streak ended with a 5-3 loss to Arizona on Monday, are batting .249 and left with Jay Bruce as their only left-handed hitter.
“We’ll see what we can do internally, initially,” general manager Walt Jocketty said. “But it’s going to be difficult to replace Joey Votto.”
The Reds only hope to do their best in Votto’s absence.
“If we can keep pressure on the other teams in our division and stay in the race he could give us a lift when he comes back,” Monday’s losing pitcher Bronson Arroyo said.
Drew Stubbs, Brandon Phillips and Chris Heisey each had two hits as the Reds lost for the fourth time in 13 home games. Phillips, 11 for 21 with three RBIs in the last five games, has batted .400 (8 for 20) in his last five versus Arizona.
Cueto (10-5, 2.39 ERA) appears fine after he was scratched from his scheduled start Sunday night against St. Louis.
“He’s getting better every day and should be all right by (Tuesday),” manager Dusty Baker told the Reds’ official website.
Cueto allowed seven hits and hit two batters but yielded two runs over 5 2-3 innings of a 4-2 win at San Diego in his most recent start July 8.
He is 3-0 with a 1.80 ERA in four starts against the Diamondbacks but has not faced them since 2009.
Miguel Montero homered, had four RBIs and was one of three players with three hits Monday for the Diamondbacks (43-46), who totaled two more runs than they did while being swept in a three-game set at Chicago over the weekend.
After going 0 for 10 at Wrigley Field, Justin Upton added three hits. He’s 3 for 9 with a double and two home runs against Cueto.
Scheduled Arizona starter Trevor Bauer (1-1, 5.40) gave up nine runs and seven walks over 7 1-3 innings while going 0-1 in his first two major league starts before he yielded two hits, walked one and struck out six in six innings of a 7-1 victory over the Dodgers on July 8.
The rookie right-hander said he did not feel any effects of groin cramps that had bothered him often this season, and also seemed to be on the same page with catcher Miguel Montero in his latest outing.
“We just sat down and kind of analyzed his first couple starts,” manager Kirk Gibson said. “We wanted to understand his strengths and we wanted him to understand a few things in certain situations.”