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Rest not an option for slumping Votto

MLB.com @m_sheldon

CINCINNATI -- Reds All-Star first baseman Joey Votto has opened the second half extremely cold at the plate. Votto doesn't know exactly why his production has dipped, but he doesn't believe rest is the solution to the problem. His yearly goal, especially after missing time with injuries in 2012 and '14, is to play all 162 games.

Reds manager Bryan Price has no immediate plans to take Votto out of the lineup.

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CINCINNATI -- Reds All-Star first baseman Joey Votto has opened the second half extremely cold at the plate. Votto doesn't know exactly why his production has dipped, but he doesn't believe rest is the solution to the problem. His yearly goal, especially after missing time with injuries in 2012 and '14, is to play all 162 games.

Reds manager Bryan Price has no immediate plans to take Votto out of the lineup.

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"He prides himself on playing. We've got a pretty good open relationship in regards to when he needs a day," Price said on Saturday. "If I feel that time has come, then I will initiate that. But at this point in time, the line of communication would suggest he's going to be in there pretty regularly."

Votto, who has appeared in all 97 games this season, is batting .138 (4-for-29) with no extra-base hits, zero RBIs and zero runs scored in the second half after Saturday's 5-4 loss to the Marlins. He has walked nine times. In the first half, he slashed .315/.427/.631, and his 26 home runs remain tied for second in the National League.

Video: MIA@CIN: Ramos K's Votto to earn the save

"I feel really good," Votto said. "Maybe the first two, three or four days after the break, I felt a little rusty, a little fatigued. But right now, I feel great. The last few games are kind of surprising. But I feel nothing but optimistic. I truly feel like I have not gotten hot once all season. I feel like I have kind of been chipping away. I've been steady, but I haven't had a real stretch of consistent hitting.

"I'd like to think that's going to come in the next 2 1/2 months, but I feel really, really good. My work has been good. My prep has been good. The way I feel at the plate has gotten better since the break."

Video: CIN@ARI: Votto belts a two-run homer to left field

Votto, who made the NL All-Star team for the fifth time as a reserve, felt last week's four-day break took him out of his usual routine. He had the All-Star festivities but also a couple of days' rest before the season resumed on July 14.

"I learned some lessons from it. If I get the opportunity to play in the All-Star Game again, I will change some things I did there to make sure I stay kind of flowing into the next bit," Votto said. "Ultimately, there are hot stretches and cold stretches. I had a pretty good 2-3 weeks before the All-Star break. There is going to be ebbs and flows. I'm more just annoyed right now but very optimistic about the next stretch of ball. As long as it's not interrupting how I compete at the plate, how I play defense, run the bases, I feel like the best is yet to come."

Roster move: As expected, the Reds recalled right-hander Robert Stephenson from Triple-A Louisville to start on Saturday. To make room on the roster, Cincinnati optioned right-handed reliever Ariel Hernandez to Louisville.

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