Neck stiffness continues for Votto

Neck stiffness continues for Votto

CINCINNATI -- If Reds first baseman Joey Votto wanted to move his neck Thursday, he still had to do it delicately. Stiffness kept Votto out of the lineup against the Pirates for a second day.

It was unlikely that manager Dusty Baker would have Votto available off the bench.

"It's better than [Wednesday]," Votto said. "Yesterday wasn't a very good day. I really didn't feel that well. I came and talked to Dusty and ran it by Paul [Lessard, the head trainer]. They came to the conclusion that I should take the day off."

Votto often resists offers for an off-day and doesn't like missing games. Miguel Cairo played first base in his place again.

"You have to look at the big picture here," Votto said. "We got the win yesterday and that's all that really matters."

Baker is trying to protect his players from nagging injuries or too much wear and tear, too early.

"This is the time of year when a lot of little things start happening, almost every year about now," Baker said. "That's why I always try to program things to get guys to the summer months. You get to the summer months and the heat takes care of a lot of stuff."