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Votto's tight lower back shows improvement

MLB.com @m_sheldon

SAN FRANCISCO -- The lower back tightness that forced Reds first baseman Joey Votto out of Monday's game showed improvement Tuesday. But the decision was already made by interim manager Jim Riggleman that Votto should rest.

"I talked to Joey after the game. Let's give this thing a chance to calm down," Riggleman said.

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SAN FRANCISCO -- The lower back tightness that forced Reds first baseman Joey Votto out of Monday's game showed improvement Tuesday. But the decision was already made by interim manager Jim Riggleman that Votto should rest.

"I talked to Joey after the game. Let's give this thing a chance to calm down," Riggleman said.

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Votto departed before the bottom of the fourth inning Monday vs. the Giants. In the third inning, he hit a single to left field and appeared in discomfort as he ran out of the batter's box. Then he advanced to second base when left fielder Gregor Blanco misplayed his hit for an error.

Adam Duvall replaced Votto Monday night and started at first base Tuesday night.

Video: CIN@SF: Votto discusses earthquake, leaving game

"I'll be playing as soon as possible," Votto said. "I think there was a possible plan of me getting the day off this series preceding the trip back [to Cincinnati]. I think it was convenient I had a little bit of hiccup. Some rest is good."

The Reds have a scheduled off-day Thursday before beginning a homestand Friday against the Cubs.

"If he's ready to go [Wednesday], he'll play," Riggleman said. 

Video: Joey Votto discusses wanting what's best for his team

Votto was able to get treatment during the game and felt good enough to pinch-hit in the ninth inning. He struck out against Hunter Strickland to end the game, however, in a 5-3 loss to the Giants.

Barnhart to play even more

Regular Reds catcher Tucker Barnhart was out of the lineup Tuesday and backup Tony Cruz started in his place. With the trade of former backup Devin Mesoraco to the Mets for pitcher Matt Harvey on May 8, Barnhart will likely be playing more often.

"Probably a little more, yeah," Riggleman said. "We're very comfortable with Tony back there. In Spring Training, immediately, we were getting a lot of good feedback from everybody concerning Tony's handling of the pitchers and his communication with the pitchers and everything like that. Probably with Devin's long-term relationship in the organization, we would have been likely to have given him as much work as possible out of respect to him, and see where that would have taken us. "

Barnhart has started 30 of the Reds' 43 games this season. Tuesday marked Cruz's third start since he was called up after the Mesoraco trade.

"If this is how our catching corps remains, Tucker would probably get another 10 percent more action over the course of the season than he would if Devin was here," Riggleman said.

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