CINCINNATI -- During this stretch of 20 consecutive games without a day off, Reds manager Dusty Baker had been plotting and thinking of a way to give Joey Votto a break.Wednesday's off-day for Votto wasn't the reason Baker had in mind. The first baseman has a stiff neck. It was extra unfortunate since Votto has the best career numbers on the team against Pirates starter Ross Ohlendorf (4-for-7, one home run). "If you can't go, you can't go," Baker said. "You know Joey Votto. If he could go, he was going to go. He called and left a message this morning. He went to see the doctor and he thought it would be better if he doesn't play today." Votto has been the Reds' best hitter again this season, entering the day batting .312 with 10 home runs, 33 RBIs and a .408 on-base percentage. He's hitting .375 over his past 10 games. Also hurting is Reds lefty setup man Arthur Rhodes, who has a sore foot. Rhodes pitched another scoreless inning on Tuesday and has a streak of 19 consecutive appearances without a run allowed. "Hopefully both of them will be OK tomorrow," Baker said.
Janish on bereavement list, Sutton called up
CINCINNATI -- Reds backup infielder Paul Janish was placed on the bereavement list on Wednesday so he could return home to Houston for his grandmother's funeral. Janish was expected to return on Saturday. Utility player Drew Sutton was recalled from Triple-A Louisville to replace Janish.Sutton was batting .268 with two homers and 16 RBIs in 37 games for Louisville. He had hit safely in each of his last seven games, while batting .458 (11-for-24) with eight RBIs. It was a nice recovery from a rough start to the season last month. "I was joking with my wife when I was hitting .200, 'You know what? I think I need to start thinking about college or something,'" Sutton said. "'What am I going to do after baseball?' That was two weeks ago." Sutton, who played 42 games with the Reds last season and batted .212, attributed his recent success to simplifying things at the plate and having better at-bats. "I started laying off pitches out of the zone that I was swinging at. I started to get a whole lot better," Sutton said. "Not trying to do too much led to a lot of other things -- laying off bad pitches, squaring the ball up, not fouling off pitches I should have hit -- all that stuff snowballs when it's going bad."
Volquez's rehab advancing
CINCINNATI -- Reds starter Edinson Volquez has taken another step closer to returning from 2009 Tommy John surgery. On Saturday, Volquez threw 40 pitches over two innings in a simulated game at the team's complex in Goodyear, Ariz.The club is still determining a schedule for Volquez and hopes he could begin pitching in extended spring games as soon as next week. Volquez, who had ligament replacement surgery in August, is also concurrently serving a 50-game suspension for violating the league policy on performance enhancing drugs. Although he's not missing any games, Volquez isn't being paid during the suspension, which ends on June 13. He is targeted to return to the Reds in late July or August.
No Friday starter named yet
CINCINNATI -- The Reds' probable starter for Friday is still listed as TBA. Manager Dusty Baker has not revealed who will take the place of injured pitcher Homer Bailey, who is on the disabled list with right shoulder inflammation. All three candidates -- Sam LeCure, Matt Maloney and Travis Wood -- are at Triple-A Louisville.LeCure, who was just named the International League pitcher of the week for 16 scoreless innings and two wins over two starts, pitched a one-hit shutout on Saturday. He is 5-2 with a 2.55 ERA this season. Lefty Matt Maloney is 4-1 with a 2.72 ERA and has big league experience. He last pitched on Friday. Another lefty, Travis Wood, won his start on Sunday vs. Scranton-Wilkes Barre and is 2-4 with a 4.15 ERA this season. Whoever the starter is, Baker said he would be in the Reds' clubhouse a day early on Thursday.
Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.