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08/14/12 7:21 PM ET

Rolen's sore back keeps him out of lineup

CINCINNATI -- Reds third baseman Scott Rolen, who has not played since Aug. 7 because of a sore back, was out of the lineup once again on Tuesday vs. the Mets. However, Rolen was on the field before the game taking batting practice and seemed to be moving around freely.

"He mentioned that he possibly could play today, but we've still got to make sure," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "We don't want him to keep coming on and off. We want to keep him on as much as we can, as long as we can."

Despite the extended absence, the Reds have avoided placing Rolen on the disabled list.

"It depends on how much longer it goes," Baker said. "If he's better, then he won't [go on the disabled list]. If we thought it was a DL thing, we wouldn't have waited this long. We've been operating short. We've been operating with 22-23 guys the last three or four days."

Votto not planning to return until he's 100 percent

CINCINNATI -- Joey Votto vows not to return to the Reds' lineup until he is 100 percent healthy. The first baseman admitted he did too much last week trying to reach that point, which caused the setback he experienced.

Votto, who needed a second arthroscopic surgical procedure on his left knee on Friday, has been limited to therapy in the pool since.

"I felt like I was close. I was probably pushing it trying to get out there," Votto said on Tuesday. "I was probably being a little overzealous.

"I hurt it sliding. It wasn't a byproduct of any of the strength training stuff or any of the medical stuff or any of the things that I ran myself through -- baseball or physical therapy. I've slid a thousand times. Before I played, I was hoping to get a round of that stuff in. I happened to re-injure it doing that."

There was no regret on Votto's part for trying to hustle back from the disabled list.

"No. I am where I am in my career because of my attitude in general," he said. "I don't think I would be the player I am if I didn't ask more of myself. Stuff like this happens."

Votto, 28, felt like his knee has made progress since the second surgery.

"It's completely different," Votto said. "The first time, it probably took me a week and a half to get to where I am now. It was a very minor procedure. I feel OK. I'm just frustrated, wishing I was playing and stuff. That's been the hardest part of this whole thing."

While the Reds would, without a doubt, love to have Votto -- the 2010 National League MVP and a 2011 NL Gold Glove winner -- back in his customary third spot in the lineup, the team has thrived in his absence.

First-place Cincinnati entered Tuesday 19-8 since Votto went down on July 16, and it had built a five-game lead over the second-place Pirates.

"We're just fortunate to have done this well without Joey," Reds manager Dusty Baker said.

The success of the team can enable both the Reds and Votto to not cut corners in his rehab. For example, Votto would not try to avoid sliding or doing other moves that could be risky for his knee just so he can return quicker.

"I'm not going to come back until I can do everything that I have to do as a ballplayer," Votto said. "I'm not comfortable coming back not being able to play defense or be able to break up a double play or be able go from first to third. I'm responsible for myself once I step on the field. If I can't take a guy out and it costs us a run or something like that, that's something I'd have a hard time looking my teammates in the eyes and be able to explain myself.

"The next time I come back, I will be 100 percent ready to play and do everything before I was hurt. That's what makes me the player I am."

Frazier garnering Rookie of the Year attention

CINCINNATI -- After being under the radar for months compared to a star like Washington's Bryce Harper, buzz is building for Reds infielder Todd Frazier as a leading candidate for the National League Rookie of the Year Award.

Frazier, who has filled in well for both first baseman Joey Votto and third baseman Scott Rolen, entered Tuesday batting .280 with 14 home runs and 48 RBIs. He was leading NL rookies in triples (five), slugging percentage (.528) and RBIs and was second in homers and third in total bases.

"I'd be lying if I said I don't look at it, but I do. It's part of the game," Frazier said. "I understand there is a chance. But at the same time, it's my role. I have to know my role playing and I've got to understand that we have to win and get to the playoffs. You play the team game. I learned at a young age that all of that individual stuff will take care of itself."

Besides Harper, another strong NL Rookie of the Year contender is D-Backs lefty starter Wade Miley. Other possible candidates are Brewers right-handed starter Mike Fiers, Padres first baseman Yonder Alonso and Frazier's Reds teammate, shortstop Zack Cozart.

Worth noting

The Reds have not named a second starter for Saturday's day-night doubleheader vs. the Cubs. Johnny Cueto will start one of the games, yet to be determined. Baker indicated a pitcher would be called up to make the start, especially since there's a new rule that allows for a 26th person on the roster for rescheduled doubleheaders. Through Tuesday, game No. 116, the Reds have used only their original five starting pitchers -- and are the only team in the league to have done so.

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.