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Soto gets another start at first with Votto out

PHILADELPHIA -- Neftali Soto found himself in the Reds' starting lineup at first base for the second game in a row on Sunday. Reds manager Bryan Price wanted Soto's right-handed bat against lefties Cole Hamels on Saturday and Cliff Lee on Sunday.

The Reds have a void at first base with Joey Votto out on a day-to-day basis with a strained left quadriceps.

"This is the opportunity to see what Neftali Soto can offer us," Price said. "For a guy that's had to sit on the bench for the first six weeks of the season with a couple of starts and pinch-hitting opportunities, this is what he's here to do -- hit left-handed pitching, get a couple of starts."

The start is only the fourth overall in 16 games this season for Soto, who has mostly pinch-hit this season. He was 1-for-3 with a single in Saturday's 12-1 Reds loss.

"I'm used to playing every day. I know what that means," Soto said. "I didn't know how to prepare for [the bench]. Sometimes, I pinch-hit and then I start. I come here thinking I'm going to play every day, even if it's just the eighth inning or starting. It doesn't matter."

Soto has had his path to the big leagues blocked with Votto entrenched at first base, and the club has tried to use him at third base and behind the plate as an emergency catcher.

The Reds don't know yet if Votto will need to go on the disabled list, or if it will be only a few days until he returns.

"I definitely need to take advantage of it," Soto said. "I know my role here. I understand it now. Hopefully Joey is back soon. We need his bat and his defense. He's a great player. But I'm going to do my best when I'm playing."

Mark Sheldon is a reporter for Read his blog, Mark My Word, and follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon.
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