CINCINNATI -- If Reds first baseman Joey Votto wanted to move his neck Thursday, he still had to do it delicately. Stiffness kept Votto out of the lineup against the Pirates for a second day.It was unlikely that manager Dusty Baker would have Votto available off the bench. "It's better than [Wednesday]," Votto said. "Yesterday wasn't a very good day. I really didn't feel that well. I came and talked to Dusty and ran it by Paul [Lessard, the head trainer]. They came to the conclusion that I should take the day off." Votto often resists offers for an off-day and doesn't like missing games. Miguel Cairo played first base in his place again. "You have to look at the big picture here," Votto said. "We got the win yesterday and that's all that really matters." Baker is trying to protect his players from nagging injuries or too much wear and tear, too early. "This is the time of year when a lot of little things start happening, almost every year about now," Baker said. "That's why I always try to program things to get guys to the summer months. You get to the summer months and the heat takes care of a lot of stuff."
Hairston helps Reds from afar
CINCINNATI -- The Reds entered Thursday in sole possession of first place in the National League Central Division, thanks in part to former teammate Jerry Hairston Jr., who is now with the Padres. After the Reds lost Tuesday's game to the Pirates, they stayed tied for first because Hairston's homer gave San Diego a 1-0 win over the Cardinals. On Wednesday after a Reds win, Hairston hit a walk-off homer in the bottom of the 13th to beat St. Louis and put the Cards one game back."You know he's chirping. Go ahead and chirp, Jerry," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "I can hear him now."
Chapman goes five strong for Louisville
CINCINNATI -- After being pushed back by a blister, Aroldis Chapman returned to the mound for Triple-A Louisville on Thursday. Against Gwinnett, Chapman threw five scoreless innings with three hits and one walk allowed. The left-hander, who departed with a 4-0 lead, also struck out seven and threw two wild pitches.Chapman threw 90 pitches, including 57 for strikes. According to the Bats' Twitter feed, the 22-year-old old Cuban defector hit 100-plus mph four times in the first inning, including a 103 mph fastball that struck out Wes Timmons. Louisville took a 6-0 victory from Gwinnett. In his previous start on May 19 vs. Lehigh Valley, Chapman left the game after six innings after he developed a blister on his left middle finger. His originally scheduled start on Monday was moved until after he successfully threw on the side Tuesday. In starts for Louisville, Chapman is 5-2 with a 3.55 ERA. He has 55 strikeouts and 25 walks in 45 2/3 innings.
Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.