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Reds hope to have Votto back on Friday

MLB.com @m_sheldon

NEW YORK -- When the Reds return home and open a series against the D-backs on Friday, they will be hoping that Joey Votto's knee has improved enough to start. The first baseman, who doesn't miss consecutive games from the lineup often, was unable to start again Wednesday vs. the Mets because of a right knee contusion.

On Saturday vs. the Nationals, Votto was hit on the leg by Ryan Madson's 96-mph fastball. He was able to play through the next two games but was clearly limping during Monday's 6-4 loss to New York as he notched two hits and a walk. Interim manager Jim Riggleman decided after that game Votto would not play on Tuesday. Now that break has extended to a second day.

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NEW YORK -- When the Reds return home and open a series against the D-backs on Friday, they will be hoping that Joey Votto's knee has improved enough to start. The first baseman, who doesn't miss consecutive games from the lineup often, was unable to start again Wednesday vs. the Mets because of a right knee contusion.

On Saturday vs. the Nationals, Votto was hit on the leg by Ryan Madson's 96-mph fastball. He was able to play through the next two games but was clearly limping during Monday's 6-4 loss to New York as he notched two hits and a walk. Interim manager Jim Riggleman decided after that game Votto would not play on Tuesday. Now that break has extended to a second day.

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"He felt somewhat, a little better yesterday," Riggleman said. "Today with an off-day tomorrow, I'm thinking [will help]. He likes to play. He's not happy about having to take any days off. I'm sure he's going to be pushing it to be in there Friday."

Votto has been undergoing treatment and was on the field Wednesday morning doing exercise drills with strength-and-conditioning director Sean Marohn.

The last time Votto did not play two straight games for the Reds was June 21-22, 2016, vs. the Rangers because of a stomach ailment. He did not start a third game after that, vs. the Padres, but appeared as a pinch-hitter. He started all 162 games of the 2017 season.

Brandon Dixon started in Votto's place on both Tuesday and Wednesday. In 112 games this season, Votto is batting .289/.426/.427 with nine home runs and 53 RBIs. He leads the National League in on-base percentage.

Rehab assignment for Stephens

Right-handed reliever Jackson Stephens began a rehab assignment for Triple-A Louisville on Tuesday. Stephens, who has a torn meniscus in his right knee, pitched one scoreless inning with one hit while throwing 18 pitches. He was placed on the disabled list July 24.

Mark Sheldon has covered the Reds for MLB.com since 2006, and previously covered the Twins from 2001-05. Follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook and listen to his podcast.

Cincinnati Reds, Joey Votto