Votto hampered by lingering knee problems

August 14th, 2018

CINCINNATI -- During the third inning of the Reds' 10-3 loss to the Indians on Monday, Joey Votto crushed a long double that bounced once in front of the center-field wall. The run from home plate to second base looked anything but pleasant or comfortable for the first baseman, however. Ditto for when he had to run to third base for what ended up as a foul ball.

Votto has been hurting since he was plunked near his right knee by a 96-mph fastball from Nationals reliever on Aug. 4.

"I did not expect it to take this long," Votto told MLB.com on Tuesday. "It's not anything I haven't been through or guys haven't been through before. I'm just hoping it gets better sooner than later."

Reds interim manager Jim Riggleman gave Votto four starts off -- including two full games -- since the plunking from Madson, and the 34-year-old has been getting daily treatment and trying to manage the injury. In the seventh inning Monday, Votto was taken out in a double switch with Cincinnati trailing by a wide margin.

Entering Tuesday's game, he's batted .357/.500/.429 in the six games since the injury, but Monday's double marked his lone extra-base hit. With full leg strength, it's plausible that the deep drive could have been a home run -- which would have been Votto's first since July 9.

Votto acknowledged that the injury has affected all parts of his game, which has irritated him.

"It's my legs, so it's important to have that be part of your swing," Votto said. "The thing that bothers me the most is I like being at my best defensively and being able to run the bases. I am not at 100 percent yet. I think something I take a lot of pride in is feeling and looking like an athlete, especially on the defensive end of things. I'm not a good runner, but that doesn't mean I can't be a good baserunner. I'm not the most agile defensive player, but that doesn't mean I can't perform at a really high level on the defensive end of things.

"If I don't have my legs, and I don't have the ability to move, then I am not at my very best and it affects performance. I really don't like it negatively affecting my game at all."

Overall this season, Votto is batting .290/.428/.428 with nine home runs and 55 RBIs. On pace for 12 homers for 2018, he's never hit fewer than 24 in a season in which he's played at least 120 games.

Votto came in having reached safely in 18 of his previous 37 plate appearances. If there isn't improvement, could he go on the disabled list for the first time since 2014?

"I hope not," Votto replied. "I don't think so. I would be surprised. I think I am getting better, we'll see."

Garrett's second-half struggles continue

When gave up four earned runs after replacing Homer Bailey in the sixth inning of Monday's loss, it marked a career-high runs allowed in a relief appearance. They were also the first runs he's allowed since July 24, a span of six appearances.

But Garrett -- who leads the pitching staff with 55 appearances -- hasn't been as effective as he was in the first half. In his first 27 games of the season, he had a 1.93 ERA, but it's jumped to 7.48 in his past 28 appearances entering Tuesday.

"I don't know what the issue is," Riggleman said. "He had a couple of good appearances before last night and looked like he was back on track. Last night he made some bad pitches. He is a big, strong guy. His workload hasn't been that high.

"Early in the year, it was pointing towards that, like it was getting to be a good bit of usage, but then the usage tailed off. Sometimes we are so careful about how we use them, sometimes I think they are better when they pitch more and get through it. When we backed off of him is when he has been less effective."