The Cincinnati Reds’ starting lineup didn’t include Joey Votto on Thursday for the first time since Sept. 2, 2016.
Manager Bryan Price gave Votto, the veteran Reds first baseman, the day off in the series opener against the Saint Louis Cardinals at Great American Ball Park. Votto’s streak of consecutive starts will end at 202 games. It was the longest streak of starts by a Red since Pete Rose started 370 straight games from 1973-76.
“We talked about it in spring training, that there’s certainly a point in time where we’ve got to look at scheduled days off,” Price said. “I talked to him about it, and we kind of decided this would be a good (time to do it), and it needs to be something moving forward that he has access to like the rest of the players. He’s our most established player. He’s our oldest regular. I’ve asked a lot of him. He plays a lot. I’m just trying to be smart and keep him healthy and feeling great throughout the season. We just felt after a night game, a long game, and coming back and playing another game the next day that this was a good time to take the day off.”
Adam Duvall will start at first base instead of Votto. Ivan De Jesus Jr. was the last Red other than Votto to start at first base.
Votto was the fourth player in Reds history to start all 162 games last season. His streak of 202 straight starts was the second-longest active streak in baseball behind Royals shortstop Alcides Escobar (342 games).
Price said he has kept an open dialogue with Votto, who hit .273 with three RBIs, in the first 11 games, about resting.
“He understands and appreciates the value of being in the lineup every day,” Price said. “In the same respect, in order for him to be productive and stay productive, we do need to look at this. He’ll turn 35 in September. That doesn’t mean anything as far as his ability to be a productive player well into his 30s, but asking him to take on the biggest workload, which I asked him to do last year, I don’t think that’s reasonable that we’re going to do that over the duration of his contract. Even if I have to be the one who has to take the lead on it and say, ‘Hey, you need to take days off,’ we need to appreciate the fact that he’s going to need some rest.”
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