Reds notes: Scuffling Votto not ready to rest

The Reds’ Zack Cozart, left, slaps hands with Joey Votto after hitting a home run against the Diamondbacks on Wednesday, July 19, 2017, at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati. David Jablonski/Staff

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The Reds’ Zack Cozart, left, slaps hands with Joey Votto after hitting a home run against the Diamondbacks on Wednesday, July 19, 2017, at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati. David Jablonski/Staff

Much was made of New York Yankees phenom Aaron Judge going eight games without hitting a home run before he almost launched one out of Seattle Safeco Field on Friday.

Many were wondering if participating in the Home Run Derby might have sapped some of Judge’s stamina. Other sluggers have gone through similar struggles, most notably Todd Frazier when he still was with the Reds in 2015. Winning that season’s Home Run Derby seemed to wipe him out for the second half. After hitting .284 with 25 homers and 57 runs batted in before the All-Star Game, Frazier batted .220 with 10 homers and 32 RBIs after the game.

Joey Votto chose to not participate in this year’s Derby, so that couldn’t be blamed for his post-All-Star Game malaise. Votto, whose 26 homers before the break were a career high and three shy of the 29 he hit last season, went into Saturday’s game with four hits in 26 at bats in Cincinnati’s first eight post-break games.

Manager Bryan Price didn’t think Votto needed a day off.

“He prides himself on playing,” Price pointed out. “We have a pretty open relationship when it comes to talking about things like days off. One of these days, you’ll walk into the clubhouse and see that he is not in the lineup. When the time comes, I’ll initiate that, but our line of communication right now indicates he will be in there regularly. He feels great.

“Of course, I say that, but we’re playing 37 games in 38 days, so that could give us a window to give him a day, but for right now, we’re going to keep running him out there.”

Forgotten men: Patrick Kivlehan started in right field Saturday, his first start since June 26 at St. Louis. Scott Schebler, who went into the game 2-for-24 on the home stand and hitless in his last 12 at bats, started the game on the bench.

“Just a day,” Price said. “It’s been a struggle to get Kivlehan and (infielder-outfielder Arismendy Alcantara) into games. I liked the matchup.”

Alcantara hasn’t started since June 29 against Milwaukee.

Schebler, by the way, was grazed twice by Jose Urena pitches in Friday’s 3-1 Reds loss to Miami, boosting his team-leading total to 10. The next closest Reds are Jose Peraza and Eugenio Suarez, each with six.

Hernandez's turn: Right-handed pitcher Ariel Hernandez was the odd-man out when right-hander Robert Stephenson was recalled to start Saturday. Hernandez was optioned to Triple-A Louisville with no record and a 5.28 earned-run average, which is misleading. It was at 1.88 before Arizona rocked him for four hits, including two home runs, and six runs in the ninth inning of Thursday's 12-2 loss.

Finally, the finale: The Reds are scheduled to wrap up their grisly home stand on Sunday at 1:10 p.m. with the finale of their three-game series against the Marlins. Cincinnati right-hander Sal Romano (1-2, 7.50) is scheduled to make his fourth major-league start. The 6-foot-5, 270-pound Romano allowed two runs in the first four innings of his last start Tuesday against Arizona before the Diamondbacks erupted for two doubles, a walk and a triple that knocked him out with nobody out in the fifth. The Reds went on to lose, 11-2.

Romano will be opposed by right-hander Tom Koehler (1-4, 7.92). Koehler has been effective in limited action against Cincinnati, going 0-1 with a 1.88 ERA in four games, including two starts. The Reds have pushed across three earned runs and five overall in 14 1/3 innings. Sunday’s start will be the first of his career at Great American Ball Park.

The Reds then leave on an 11-day, 10-game road trip to four cities, starting with Monday’s makeup at Cleveland of a game rained out on May 25. First pitch is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. That will be followed by two games against Judge and the Yankees in New York, three at Pittsburgh and four in Miami.

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