CINCINNATI -- Joey Votto was out of the starting lineup for the fourth time in six games during Saturday's 6-3 win over the D-backs, as the Reds' first baseman remains on the mend after Nationals reliever Ryan Madson hit Votto with a pitch in the right leg on Aug. 4.Prior
CINCINNATI -- Joey Votto was out of the starting lineup for the fourth time in six games during Saturday's 6-3 win over the D-backs, as the Reds' first baseman remains on the mend after Nationals reliever Ryan Madson hit Votto with a pitch in the right leg on Aug. 4.
Prior to the game, Reds interim manager Jim Riggleman said that Votto was available to pinch-hit and could man first base if needed. Votto entered Saturday's game in the seventh as a pinch-hitter and was intentionally walked. He stayed in the game to play first base and, after Jose Peraza was intentionally walked in front of him, Votto drove in the Reds' final run of the game with a single in the eighth inning.
Votto returned to the lineup Friday after sitting Tuesday and Wednesday's games -- Cincinnati was off on Thursday -- but he was replaced by Brandon Dixon at first base in the ninth inning.
"As the game went on [Friday] -- running the bases, trying to play defense -- you could see it was bothering him," Riggleman said. "We're pretty confident we will have him back in [the starting lineup Sunday] and hopefully we can get this thing behind us. It's probably going to linger for a while, but we'd like to get him closer to 100 percent than he is right now."
Herrera makes first career start in LF
Starts anywhere on the diamond have been few and far between for Dilson Herrera since the Reds purchased the infielder's contract from Triple-A Louisville on July 6. Herrera, 24, started for the fourth time this season on Saturday night, but in a new position: left field, where Herrera has never made a start in the Minors or Majors.
"Most guys who play the infield can catch a fly ball. We want him to [catch] it and get it back into the cut-off man," Riggleman said. "It's a little bit of experimentation. As much as we're trying to win ballgames, we've got to find out about some guys, too."
Naturally, the first ball put in play on Saturday, a lazy fly ball, found Herrera. Herrera ventured after Paul Goldschmidt's liner in left-center in the ensuing at-bat, where Billy Hamilton came out of nowhere to make a spectactular leaping grab. Herrera wound up with three putouts, and narrowly missed a tremendous diving catch in the fifth inning when D-backs pitcher Robbie Ray's double snuck under his glove.
"He made a great effort on that ball Ray hit," Riggleman said. "He looked fine out there."
Herrera had previously logged 3 1/3 innings in left field this season as a substitute. Before utilityman Alex Blandino was ruled out for the season in late July after tearing his right ACL, Riggleman noted that the Reds were preparing Herrera for a similar role. With the Reds primarily operating with a four-man bench in 2018, positional flexibility is at a premium for the club's backups.
"When he got here, we had him start working in the outfield," Riggleman said of Herrera. "We're just looking for a guy to hopefully make the routine plays and swing the bat for us."
Including this series with the D-backs, the Reds will play seven of their next eight series vs. winning teams. Three clubs -- the D-backs, Indians and Cubs -- led or co-led their respective divisions entering Saturday's night games, while the Brewers, Cardinals and Pirates are all within seven games of the National League Central lead.
The Giants (58-59) are the only team under .500 the Reds will face over the next month before the Padres visit Cincinnati from Sept. 6-9.
** Grant Freking ** is a contributor to MLB.com based in Cincinnati.