8/29/2014 8:02 P.M. ET
Negron parlays hot hand into more starts
By Mark Sheldon / MLB.com
PITTSBURGH -- The Reds have featured 105 lineups this season, not counting the pitcher's spot, but manager Bryan Price wrote out the same top eight for the third game in a row on Friday. It's only the second time he's done that all season.
"Continuity, wow. It's a new managerial style," Price joked.
Largely because of injuries, Price has used his projected Opening Day lineup just 12 times in 2014.
"You like to have continuity in your lineup, because what that typically represents is productivity -- health, No. 1, productivity, No. 2," he said. "We haven't had any true continuity for the bulk of the season."
For the fourth straight game and fifth time in six games, rookie utility player Kristopher Negron started at third base, with Todd Frazier moved to first. Negron has had a hot hand lately at the plate, and has also played good defense.
"It's a great opportunity for Kris," Price said. "He's given us a boost. It's not necessarily statistical stuff, it's from an energy perspective. It's like you're playing with fresh legs."
Negron, 28, logged 3,250 Minor League at-bats and played four Major League games for the Reds in June 2012. Shortly after returning to Triple-A Louisville, he sustained a catastrophic injury to his right knee while playing left field, and he didn't get back to the big leagues until July 10 of this season.
"It feels great to get this opportunity. Coming off the knee surgery, I wasn't sure I would come back healthy enough to get the opportunity again," Negron said. "I'm very lucky and grateful. I just try to play hard every day and be a sparkplug still."
Votto dealt setback after taking grounders
PITTSBURGH -- Plans to get injured first baseman Joey Votto back on the field seemed optimistic earlier this week when he commenced performing some baseball activities.
But on Friday came the news that the distal strain in Votto's left quadriceps did not respond well to taking ground balls on Wednesday at Great American Ball Park.
"It wasn't as good a result as we had hoped," manager Bryan Price revealed. "There was still some fairly significant discomfort when he got lateral side-to-side [movement], so we had to back off with that and stay with some strengthening and whatever the physical therapy protocols are. We hope when we get back there is some marked improvement. He took some light swings [on Thursday] and he'll be able to gradually increase baseball workload based on how he feels."
Votto went on the disabled list with the quad strain for the second time this season on July 8. Last week he began a running program and started taking swings and playing catch on Tuesday.
Recently transferred to the 60-day DL, he is eligible for activation on Sept. 4. With the Reds' hopes for a postseason berth having faded drastically, does the club's place in the standings play a part in the decision of whether he plays again in 2014?
"Well, I think that's a great question. It's a legitimate question," Price said. "The one thing we have to do is get him to the point where he can play. It's a moot point until we get there. We don't know for sure when that time is going to be. That's one thing about this particular injury -- there's no deadline as to when he's supposed to be physically capable of playing without re-injury, which takes us back to square one with the rehab. I think if he gets back to where he can play, he plays. That certainly could change with where we are in the standings and sitting down with Dr. [Tim] Kremchek and making a decision about what's in the best interest of Joey moving forward."
Price was asked if Votto's injury could be chronic and career-threatening.
"I think if there was a concern about this being a long-term thing that could set him back or with him chronically for the rest of his career, we wouldn't be considering playing him in September," he said.
• The Reds' next off-day is on Monday, Labor Day, before they open a three-game series in Baltimore on Tuesday. It's the first time the Reds don't have a game scheduled on Labor Day since 2008. They are 1-4 in the last five games they've played on the holiday.