CINCINNATI -- A lot has been made about Joey Votto's post All-Star Game comments concerning Marlon Byrd and the Cubs, but he pointed out that one thing has been missing from all the talk: context.

"I was laughing at the time," Votto said Friday. "The shame of it was, Marlon and I probably got along the best on the bench and in the outfield and stuff. I talked to him and I was one of the first to congratulate him in Chicago. So it was definitely taken out of context, and I was laughing when I said it."

Votto said he has the "utmost respect for the Cubs in general," before laughing and adding, "maybe not necessarily for the fans."

The controversy arose when Votto said after the All-Star Game that he would have a tough time congratulating a member of the Cubs, even after Byrd made a big defensive play by throwing out David Ortiz at second base from the outfield.

But Friday, Votto emphasized that he laughed when he said it, and that was again the case for much of the conversation before Friday's game. When asked about a YouTube video which surfaced and shows him turning down autograph requests from Cubs fans, Votto laughed and said he doesn't sign for Cubs fans.

"I think it's kind of fun to play the heel," Votto said. "Not everything has to be friendly, and we take it seriously whenever we go there. It's not just a game to us -- it's our job.

"When I first was called up in 2007, they won [the division title] on our field, and I still remember that now. I remember them looking at the scoreboard and Cubs fans cheering, everybody in the stands wearing blue. I still remember that, and it meant a lot to me. I guess I probably should let it go, but I'm not an easy forgiver."

Reds set rotation to open second half

CINCIINNATI -- The uncertainty surrounding the Reds' pitching rotation is finished, at least for now.

With Edinson Volquez already set to return Saturday, Reds manager Dusty Baker said Travis Wood will pitch Sunday against the Rockies and Johnny Cueto and Mike Leake will start Monday and Tuesday, respectively, to open the series with Washington.

That leaves rookie Matt Maloney out of the mix for now, while more decisions will have to be made once Aaron Harang and Homer Bailey are ready to return.

Baker said a date for Harang's return is unknown, as he has been shut down temporarily while trying to recover from lower back spasms.

"He threw the other day and said he didn't feel anything, and then the day after, he felt a little stiffness again," Baker said. "So he's been ordered not to throw for a couple days. So now we're working on a couple weeks, so he's going to have to get back into pitching shape."

When he does, the Reds will have another choice to make as the starting rotation gets deeper and deeper. Baker credited the organization for the pitching depth, saying the surplus of pitching gives them insurance.

"The next step is a coin flip of which ones do you keep or which ones do you potentially move, and you still wish something good on everybody," Baker said. "Right now, we're not in a position to talk about moving them, but eventually something's going to have to happen with somebody. If not this year, over the winter or some time."

Dickerson begins rehab assignment

CINCINNATI -- The long road to recovery for Reds outfielder Chris Dickerson has finally reached a critical point, as Dickerson was sent to Triple-A Louisville to begin a rehab assignment Friday.

He was expected to be in the Louisville lineup against Lehigh Valley on Friday night.

Dickerson, who had surgery on his right hand and wrist, has been out since April 30 and is on the 60-day disabled list.

Bailey eyeing rehab assignment in a week

CINCINNATI -- The Reds' starting rotation has gotten deeper and deeper, and another arm is getting close to being ready.

Right-hander Homer Bailey, who has been on the disabled list since May 24 with right shoulder inflammation, said the plan is to throw one or two more bullpen sessions and then hopefully start a rehab assignment in a week or so.

"'Finally' is the key word," Bailey said. "Luckily, we have a good enough team that a lot of pitchers have been doing really well and have really picked up the slack."

With the return of Edinson Volquez and the success of rookies Mike Leake and Travis Wood, the rotation has become much more crowded than what it was when Bailey initially went on the disabled list.

But before determining what his role will be, Bailey said it's a matter of first getting through the rehab starts and being ready to return to the Reds.

Rookies part of Reds' success

CINCINNATI -- The Reds have a long list of rookies who have contributed this season, as six of the current players on the 25-man roster are rookies.

The list includes outfielder Chris Heisey and pitchers Mike Leake, Travis Wood, Matt Maloney, Jordan Smith and Logan Ondrusek. With so many rookies, manager Dusty Baker was asked about his experiences as a rookie player.

"Well, I was a very confident rookie," Baker said with a laugh.

He said it's hard to compare his time with the current climate, as a lot of things have changed. He said rookies are made to feel welcome in Cincinnati -- aside from some of the common chores like waiting on veterans when flying, something Baker said he may have objected to doing.

"I said in Spring Training, 'Whoever is here, you don't make them feel like they're a rookie,'" Baker said. "'You make them feel like they belong, because we need them to contribute. We need them to act like veterans as much as they can without being veterans.'"