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Votto's games-started streak (202) ends

Reds give first baseman planned day off from lineup to rest
MLB.com @m_sheldon

CINCINNATI -- Before Thursday's series opener vs. the Cardinals, the last time someone not named Joey Votto started at first base for the Reds was Ivan De Jesus Jr. It was Sept. 2, 2016, also vs. St. Louis.

A streak of 202 starts and games played, including all 162 games of 2017, came to an end when Votto was given a day off from Cincinnati's starting lineup Thursday. It was not for health reasons, but to give him a rare break.

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CINCINNATI -- Before Thursday's series opener vs. the Cardinals, the last time someone not named Joey Votto started at first base for the Reds was Ivan De Jesus Jr. It was Sept. 2, 2016, also vs. St. Louis.

A streak of 202 starts and games played, including all 162 games of 2017, came to an end when Votto was given a day off from Cincinnati's starting lineup Thursday. It was not for health reasons, but to give him a rare break.

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"We talked about it in Spring Training," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "There's certainly a point in time when we've got to look at some scheduled days off. I talked to him about it and decided this would be a good one. It's something moving forward that he'd have access to like the rest of our players. He's our most established player. He's our oldest regular. I've asked a lot of him. He plays a lot. I'm trying to be smart and keep him healthy and feeling great throughout the season."

Following the Reds' 12-inning loss at Philadelphia on Wednesday, Votto was also given permission to arrive late to Great American Ball Park.

Adam Duvall, normally the Reds' left fielder, started at first base in place of Votto, and Jesse Winker got the start in left.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Votto's streak of starts was the longest games-started streak for the Reds since Pete Rose started 370 consecutive games from 1973-76. During his streak, Votto played 1,733 1/3 of the Reds' 1,782 1/3 innings in the field.

"I feel fortunate I get to play for a manager that gives me options," Votto said after the Reds' 13-4 loss. "In the past, he's wanted me to play and usually I just kept playing. Today we decided was a good day, and it made sense to take today off and we agreed mutually ... and he's very generous in that regard."

Votto's games-played streak was second among active players behind Royals shortstop Alcides Escobar, who is at 342 games and was the only player besides Votto last season to start all 162.

Days out of the lineup have long been rare for Votto, who played 158 games in both the 2015 and '16 seasons and 162 games in '13. Injuries limited him to 62 games in '14.

"He understands and appreciates the value of being in the lineup every day," Price said. "In the same respect, in order for him to be productive and stay productive, we do need to look at this. He'll turn 35 in September. That doesn't mean anything as far as his ability to be a productive player well into his 30s. But asking him to take on the biggest workload, which I asked him to last year, I don't think it's reasonable to think we're going to do that over the duration of his contract."

Finnegan could be ready
It looks likely that left-hander Brandon Finnegan (left biceps strain) will be activated from the 10-day disabled list to start vs. the Cardinals on Saturday. Finnegan pitched on a rehab assignment in a game for Triple-A Louisville on Monday and is coming off of a bullpen session.

"He got through that fine," Price said. "I think there's a very high probability that he'll make his next start for us. But until we all get together collectively and agree on it, there's really no announcement."

Cody Reed is currently listed as Cincinnati's starter for Saturday. Finnegan threw 98 pitches over five innings for Louisville, allowing four runs (three earned) on eight hits and five walks while striking out two.

"I threw a lot of really good pitches. The umpire and I weren't seeing eye to eye," Finnegan said. "It happens. My command was really [good]. I know the box score says it wasn't. If you see the video, my pitches weren't big misses."

Suarez on the mend
Seen in the Reds' clubhouse Thursday for the first time since he fractured his right thumb vs. the Pirates on Sunday, third baseman Eugenio Suarez reported that he was feeling better. His thumb was less discolored and he was able to move it without needing a brace.

"The only thing I can't do is squeeze," Suarez said. "Because the pain is right there, I just try to get it moving, I can't do anything with it."

Suarez is hoping he can be back in two to three weeks. The injury is extra frustrating, however, because the team is struggling and it came on the heels of him driving in five runs in Saturday's win.

"That's the tough thing about this because I started to feel better at the plate," Suarez said. "I started to see more pitches and make good swings. I helped my team and then this happened. I'm just trying to be back very soon and more strong."

Video: CIN@PIT: Suarez gets hit in the hand, exits game

Worth noting
• Reliever David Hernandez (right shoulder inflammation) is scheduled to throw another bullpen session on Saturday. If it goes well, Hernandez could go out on a rehab assignment.

• Outfielder Scott Schebler, on the DL since he lost feeling in his fingers following a hit-by-pitch to the elbow on April 1, resumed baseball activities after three days off.

• Reliever Kevin Shackelford (right forearm strain) will begin a rehab assignment with Double-A Pensacola on Saturday.

• Pitcher Yovani Gallardo, who was designated for assignment on Tuesday, cleared waivers and rejected an outright assignment. Gallardo is now a free agent.

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