PIT@CIN: Soto smacks a double for his first MLB hit

CINCINNATI --- Reds rookie infielder Neftali Soto didn't just wait 15 at-bats to nab his first Major League hit. It's been nearly a year in the making before Soto connected Monday on a pinch-hit, one-out double down the left-field line in the fifth inning of Monday's rain-suspended game vs. the Pirates.

Soto was first called up to the big leagues on May 18-19 of last season and had 13 games played and 12 at-bats spread over three stints with the Reds in 2013. He was 0-for-2 in pinch-hitting appearances entering Monday.

"It's real nice to get the first one, especially after last year, when I got the at-bats and it didn't happen. It felt great to do it," Soto said on Tuesday.

At the time of Soto's hit, the Reds were trailing by a 5-4 score as rain threatened to shorten the game. Later in the inning, Joey Votto put Cincinnati ahead with a two-run homer.

"That felt even better. It always feels good to help the team," Soto said. "Now, I actually feel that I've done something."

Soto has the ball from his first hit and plans to give it to his father, Neftali Soto Sr.

"He's going to put it in a special place in his office, for sure," Soto said.

Adjustments helping Votto rediscover power

PIT@CIN: Votto connects for a two-run home run

CINCINNATI -- There has been noticeable power coming from the bat of Reds first baseman Joey Votto. Of his three home runs in the last four games, two came on Sunday and Monday while hitting in the No. 2 spot.

Of course, shifting up one place in the lineup has little to do with Votto driving the ball better.

"There's zero correlation with the lineup change. I felt like I was getting there," Votto said on Tuesday before resuming Monday's game suspended by rain.

Votto's recent success, he believes, is more a manifestation of the extra time he put into his swing during Spring Training. On multiple occasions, he requested extra at-bats in spring games he wasn't scheduled to play. He also put in overtime working in the cage and watching video of his 2013 swing. Last season, while he hit .305, his power numbers were down with 24 home runs, 73 RBIs and a .491 slugging percentage.

"There were a couple of things I was doing that I wasn't doing in previous years, when I was having a lot of success driving the ball," Votto said. "I feel better in that regard."

Votto's first homer of the season on Friday was driven the opposite way to left field vs. the Rays. On Sunday, he drove a two-run shot to center field, and on Monday in the rainy fifth inning vs. the Pirates, he drove a first-pitch from Bryan Morris for a no-doubt two-run homer to right field.

Votto made some mechanical adjustments to make his swing more consistent with his earlier seasons.

"I was weight shifting, transferring too much weight and I wasn't rotating as much," Votto said. "I had too much weight going from back leg to front leg, instead of holding the weight in my back leg and then rotating. That's the biggest difference. I saw that all year last year. I wasn't running into that problem in 2012 before the [left knee] injury, or 2011 and 2010."

Brrrrr! Temps drop as Reds pick up vs. Bucs

CINCINNATI -- When Monday's series opener between the Reds and Pirates started, it was 66 degrees at first pitch. Following a night of showers that suspended the game and an early morning snowfall, temperatures were in the high 30s when play resumed in the seventh inning on Tuesday.

Players warmed up wearing knit caps on their head and several wore tights under their uniform pants. Temperatures were forecasted to reach the high 20s or low 30s during Game 2 in the evening.

"I can't think of when a baseball season started that the weather went from 80 degrees on Sunday to a high of 40 with it dropping into the 30s and 20s and windy within 24 hours," Reds shortstop Zack Cozart said Tuesday afternoon. "It's kind of crazy."