© 2012 MLB Advanced Media, L.P. All rights reserved.

04/19/12 7:05 PM ET

Playing with pain, Phillips gets first homer, RBIs

ST. LOUIS -- Admittedly playing at 60 percent on a sore left hamstring, Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips is clearly favoring the injury when he runs.

It was more than evident when Phillips hit into two double plays during Wednesday's 11-1 Reds loss to the Cardinals. He could not run hard up the line. Reds manager Dusty Baker was asked Thursday if there was concern about Phillips becoming seriously hurt by playing.

"There's always concern," Baker replied. "I don't know anybody that hasn't played with a hammy or a quad or something. You could put him on the DL and you still won't know when [it will be all better]. That's the thing about baseball, once you hurt something, it usually stays hurt a long time. You don't have a week [between games] to recuperate.

"That's why I told him to play smart with your stride -- have no sudden stops or starts. If you're out on a double play, just be out so you can play again. I told him if they boo you for not hustling, don't pay attention to them because you want to play another day."

Phillips initially injured his hamstring on April 9 and missed five starts. He lobbied to get back in the lineup, which finally happened on Sunday.

"I've never been on the DL, so I gave him instruction on how to play hurt," Baker said. "When he was out, everybody was asking when he would come back and how come he's not back yet? Now everybody is asking if there is any fear of hurting him. You can't have it both ways."

In Thursday's 6-3 victory over St. Louis, Phillips was 2-for-5 with his first two RBIs. He hit his first home run of the season with a solo shot in the fourth inning and had an RBI single in the fifth. It raised his average from .207 to .235.

"It felt good to get my first RBI. My leg is feeling so much better," Phillips said. "I've been treating it every day. I feel like it's getting stronger. I stayed back on my leg more. The more innings I played, the more I started feeling it. At the beginning of the game, I felt real good. I think the heat on my leg was wearing off. ... I got a lot of Icy Hot on my leg. I have to put the whole jar on me next time."

Mesoraco not shying away from plate collisions

ST. LOUIS -- It's a requisite for catching to block the plate when a throw is coming in to prevent a run. Reds rookie Devin Mesoraco isn't afraid of the contact.

Mesoraco successfully blocked Cardinals pitcher Jaime Garcia from trying to score on Rafael Furcal's double to center field in the fourth inning of Wednesday's 11-1 loss. He had to receive a perfect relay throw from second baseman Brandon Phillips first as Garcia barreled in.

"That one was kind of different. The throw took me into him, so I almost had to block the plate or he was going to be safe," Mesoraco said. "I try to get into their way and stop them at home plate."

Catching collisions are under more scrutiny after Giants catcher Buster Posey suffered a season-ending broken leg last season. In the previous series at Washington, Mesoraco had a play at the plate where his left leg was exposed as the runner scored.

"I want to get into a good position where I can block the plate and be safe at the same time," Mesoraco said. "You don't want to go down on to your knees and have that leg turn one way or the other. You want to face the baserunner. As long as I'm in a good fundamental position, I can block the plate and be safe at the same time."

Votto heads list of eight Reds on All-Star ballot

ST. LOUIS -- During a news conference in Kansas City on Thursday, the ballots for the 83rd All-Star Game were unveiled before voting begins on Friday. The game will be played at Kauffman Stadium on July 10.

The eight Reds position players on the ballot are first baseman Joey Votto, second baseman Brandon Phillips, shortstop Zack Cozart, third baseman Scott Rolen, catcher Ryan Hanigan and outfielders Jay Bruce, Drew Stubbs and Ryan Ludwick.

Fans can cast their votes for starters up to 25 times at MLB.com and all 30 club sites -- online or via a mobile device -- using the 2012 All-Star Game MLB.com Ballot until Thursday, June 28, at 11:59 p.m. ET.

The last time a Reds position player was elected to the All-Star Game via popular voting was Ken Griffey Jr. in 2007. Last season, four Reds represented the team at the All-Star Game in Phoenix -- Votto, Phillips, Rolen and Bruce.

In-stadium ballots at Great American Ball Park will be available from April 27-June 12.

Worth noting

• Todd Frazier made his first start of the season when he played third base on Thursday for Scott Rolen, who was given a rest.

• Manager Dusty Baker had Joey Votto and Jay Bruce in his office for several minutes for a private meeting on Thursday morning. The manager would not discuss what the meeting was about.

Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Mark My Word, and follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.