8/13/2014 4:45 P.M. ET
Votto may start baseball activity within two weeks
By Mark Sheldon and Manny Randhawa / MLB.com
CINCINNATI -- Reds first baseman Joey Votto, who has been on the disabled list since July 8 with a left distal quadriceps strain, has yet to integrate baseball activity into his rehabilitation.
Votto, who has kept a relatively low profile since being out of action, has been doing strengthening work on his leg. He has not taken road trips with the club, and he again won't accompany the traveling party for the upcoming seven-game trip to Colorado and St. Louis.
"I don't like to throw dates out there, but it's reasonable to think that some time in the next week and a half to two weeks that baseball activity would start back up again," Reds manager Bryan Price said.
Rehab assignment approaching for Phillips
CINCINNATI -- Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips' progress from left thumb surgery is quickly advancing to its final stages. Phillips could begin a Minor League rehab assignment on Friday, and a return to the big league lineup wasn't ruled out during the upcoming seven-game road trip.
The plan is for Phillips to work out in Cincinnati on Wednesday and Thursday. He took batting practice on the field Tuesday for the first time since his July 11 surgery to repair a torn ligament in his thumb.
"If everything goes well, we'll get him into some Minor League games, which would be the logical next step," Reds manager Bryan Price said on Wednesday morning. "Then it will be a game-by-game evaluation on how he's doing. He's certainly going to need at least a handful of at-bats to kind of assess where he is, get his timing back somewhat, and then we'll evaluate and see where he is."
Price expected that Phillips would likely play for Triple-A Louisville on Friday. He could also see game action with Class A Dayton, since both affiliates will be playing at home.
Phillips has been pain-free swinging the bat and taking ground balls, but the question remains about how many at-bats he might need before he would be able to rejoin the Reds.
"Repetition is good, and we'd also like to have him back," Price said. "So it's trying to find a way to marry those two things where we can get him enough playing time. We can't put him through an entire Spring Training, but at least a few games."
Phillips was expected to be out of action for six weeks after his operation to repair the injury he sustained on July 9 while trying to make a diving catch in the field. Price speculated that he could have his National League Gold Glove Award-winning second baseman back during the upcoming trip, or shortly after the team opens a homestand next Thursday.
"I don't want to say he's rushed his rehab," Price said. "But he's done everything he can to get back into this place where he can actually be considered to go out for a rehab assignment and rejoin our club sooner than expected."
Defensive-minded Cozart contends for Gold Glove
CINCINNATI -- Zack Cozart is enduring his worst offensive season since breaking into the Majors in 2011. After going 2-for-4 in Wednesday's 5-4 loss to the Red Sox, he's batting .224 with 21 extra-base hits and 27 RBIs after batting .254 with 30 doubles, 12 home runs and 63 RBIs in '13.
But that hasn't stopped Cozart from playing stellar defense at shortstop. According to fangraphs.com, he entered Wednesday leading all Major League shortstops in ultimate zone rating (12.6), defensive runs saved (20) and range runs (10) -- measuring how many runs above or below average a defensive player is based on how well he reaches balls hit in his vicinity.
Cozart's defense has been so good that he also entered Wednesday with the second-highest defensive WAR (2.79) of all Major League players, behind only Braves outfielder Jason Heyward (2.82).
If there's one individual award Cozart would like to earn, it's a National League Gold Glove Award.
"In a year where I haven't swung the bat the way I know I can, I kind of fall back on defense, and it's been important for me and this team, too," Cozart said. "So that would be obviously a really, really cool award."
Cozart grew up in Memphis, Tenn., and his father was a Cardinals fan, giving the young Cozart ample opportunity to watch one of the greatest defensive shortstops of all time.
"I used to love Ozzie Smith, and he won Gold Glove after Gold Glove, so I think that's where I get my mentality," Cozart said.
Cozart is keenly aware of some of his great predecessors at shortstop in Cincinnati, with Dave Concepcion and Hall of Famer Barry Larkin having occupied the position for the better part of four decades between them. Cozart also regularly gets texts from Hall of Famer and former Reds second baseman Joe Morgan, encouraging him and telling him how impressive his defense has been.
"It's kind of crazy, when you think about it," Cozart said. "[The Reds] went so long with two shortstops, and then Brandon [Phillips] has had a ridiculous amount [of shortstops to work with]. So for me to play with him and be on this team for a good period of time is pretty cool, knowing the rich history of the Reds."
If Cozart were to win a Gold Glove Award this season, he would be the first Reds shortstop to do so since Larkin in 1996.
• Reds right fielder Jay Bruce was scratched from the starting lineup vs. the Red Sox late Wednesday morning because he is sick. Skip Schumaker, originally slated to start in left field, moved to right in Bruce's place, while Ryan Ludwick started in left field.
Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Mark My Word, and follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon. Manny Randhawa is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.