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Returns of Votto, Latos making life easier on Price

PITTSBURGH -- Bryan Price said he was able to have a late breakfast, nap and watch TV when the Reds had an off-day on Monday. It was a day of relaxation, and the Reds' manager could enjoy it knowing he would enter this week with his lineup healthier than it's been in a while.

The injury-ridden Reds got both first baseman Joey Votto and starting pitcher Mat Latos back from the disabled list last week. Votto has rejoined the batting order seemingly without missing a beat, hitting .348 with a .901 OPS in his first six games before adding an RBI single in his first at-bat on Tuesday.

Since Votto's return, the Reds were 4-2 entering Tuesday and had scored 30 runs in their past five games -- a number greatly aided by Sunday's 13-run outburst in Milwaukee.

"We're not running out a bunch of different lineups out there," Price said. "This doesn't mean, of course, that there will never be another change in the lineup. And I think there is something to be said about knowing what is expected from you and knowing when you're going to be in there and when you're not. It's nice."

Price has been forced to move hitters all over the order due to the injuries. An example of this is third baseman Todd Frazier, who has hit in five different spots in the order (second, third, fourth, fifth and sixth), and four of those spots (all but third) at least 10 times each.

In the last week, Frazier has been the Reds' No. 2 hitter, a spot in which he started for the 17th time this season in Tuesday's opener vs. the Pirates. Frazier came into the night hitting .258 with six homers, 13 RBIs and a .930 OPS while batting second in 2014.

Regardless of where he is in the lineup, Frazier's average and on-base percentage are up more than 30 points apiece from his 2013 numbers, which is a big part of why Price feels comfortable penciling him in behind the usual leadoff hitter, speedster Billy Hamilton.

"What Todd has done so well, is he's seen more pitches and he's taking pitches to let Billy run," Price said. "I think we're seeing a more disciplined hitter, a guy who has done more damage, and I don't know if it's so much hitting second or if his hitting plan has matured."

Stephen Pianovich is an associate reporter for
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