CINCINNATI -- While the Reds are on a hot streak even without superstar Joey Votto in the lineup, good news emerged from the Cincinnati clubhouse after Saturday's win against the Brewers.
Reds manager Dusty Baker said Votto, who underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left knee on Tuesday, is well on his way to recovery and was walking under his own power on Saturday.
"Joey's looking pretty good," Baker said. "Today, he didn't have his crutches, which is a big plus. Doc said he's progressing well. That's great news for us and him."
Votto has been out since Monday with a torn meniscus in his left knee and is expected to miss 3-4 weeks, but Baker said on Sunday it may be even sooner.
"Probably," said Baker when asked if he expected Votto to be back sooner rather than later. "But I'm not going to rush him. I haven't seen a guy walk around like he's walking less than a week after his operation. I was shocked that he put his crutches down."
Despite Votto's early progress, Baker warned that the All-Star may face some lingering concerns in his immediate return, noting baserunning and sliding being the largest hurdles.
"The hard thing is probably going to be running, and probably more than anything, I remember from my own operation, the hardest thing was sliding," Baker said. "You've been sliding on that one leg most of your life. Then all of a sudden, you're apprehensive about sliding, and that's how he hurt it. Until you do it a few times and realize you're not going to hurt yourself, you've got to get over the psychological fact that, 'Hey, I'm not hurt anymore.'"
The Reds are 4-2 entering Sunday in Votto's absence.
Reds finding success while mixing and matching
CINCINNATI -- There are very few spots in the Reds' lineup that are guarantees anymore.
You can usually pencil in Brandon Phillips at second, Zack Cozart at short and Jay Bruce in right, but aside from those three spots, Cincinnati sees a different lineup nearly every game.
"We're just mixing and matching and trying not to let guys be off too long," said Reds manager Dusty Baker. "I'm trying to keep guys strong and healthy and keep their timing to a degree."
Even the three usual starters aren't always assured a spot in the lineup, as Wilson Valdez got the nod at short over Cozart on Sunday.
Baker has successfully mixed and matched so far, leading his club to a season-high 14 games above .500 as of Sunday, with wins in 10 of its last 12.
Ryan Hanigan and rookie Devin Mesoraco share starting time behind the plate depending on who is pitching.
With Votto out, Todd Frazier and Miguel Cairo have filled in at first base. Frazier has also contributed behind Scott Rolen at third and Ryan Ludwick in left field.
Ludwick owns most of the starts in left, but has received his share of off-days to allow Frazier and Chris Heisey to grab some playing time.
"Coming over here, even all the way back to the offseason, one of the reasons I signed here is how deep this lineup is," Ludwick said. "It's a really deep lineup, especially when everyone is hitting. I don't think everyone has really hit yet. If we get one through eight hitting, it's going to be pretty."
Baker said balancing the roster, especially in the heart of the season, is a challenge, and player fatigue will play a crucial part in the Reds' run at the postseason.
"When guys are starting to drag, that's called dog days. This is very important in how we program these guys, and you hope that the opposition might have a different outlook on how to run the race, and run their guys in the ground, hopefully. Or they don't have the depth that we have, so I don't have to run them."
The Reds are entering a stretch of the season where they play 46 games in 49 days.
"This is all designed for this stretch of late July and August," Baker said. "In September, we'll get a little help and it'll get a little cooler, but this is the epitome of dog days coming up here. Every game is kind of a hard-fought-type game. We're playing some teams that are trying to stay in it, and when you're on top, they play their best against you."
Arredondo to miss a few days with swelling in arm
CINCINNATI -- Reds reliever Jose Arredondo was removed from Saturday's win against the Brewers after taking a ball off his right forearm in the seventh inning, and the club is being cautious with the right-hander.
Arredondo had some significant swelling in his arm on Sunday, and said the area was a little sensitive, but nothing to be overly concerned about.
"I'll be alright," Arredondo said. "It might just take a couple days."
Reds manager Dusty Baker said Arredondo will likely be unavailable for a few games, but is confident the club can get by with a well-rested bullpen.
"I imagine he'll be sore," Baker said. "I'm planning on him not being available. We are relatively whole now. We're in decent shape even without him."
The Reds used three more relievers after Arredondo's exit on Saturday.
Brewers shortstop Jeff Bianchi lined a ball straight back to Arredondo, who turned and deflected the ball with his forearm to Todd Frazier, who recorded the out at first.
The Reds' staff came out to examine Arredondo as he threw several precautionary pitches to test the arm and decided to leave him in the game.
Arredondo lasted one more batter, giving up a single to pinch-hitter Cesar Izturis, before the training staff reemerged from the dugout and the Reds replaced Arredondo with lefty Sean Marshall.
Arredondo pitched two-thirds of an inning, giving up one hit and striking out one.
Masset likely to begin rehab assignment soon
CINCINNATI -- Reds reliever Nick Masset is on the verge of beginning his rehab assignment as he recovers from a right shoulder injury that has kept him on the disabled list all season.
As of Sunday, Reds manager Dusty Baker confirmed that Masset was continuing to throw bullpen sessions, and his rehab may begin soon.
"He's throwing, it's just a matter of when we want to, with him and his body, start the 30-day rehab ticker," Baker said. "We'll see."
Masset could see action in Arizona Rookie League games before going on a Minor League rehab assignment, but Baker said he is in no rush to tinker with the current bullpen, which led the Majors with 19 wins and a 2.51 ERA entering Sunday.
"We're kind of holding down the ship here," Baker said.
Mark Clements is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.