Votto, Rolen remain out of lineup

Votto, Rolen remain out of lineup

Votto, Rolen remain out of lineup
LOS ANGELES -- For the second straight day, the Reds were without first baseman Joey Votto and third baseman Scott Rolen.

"We're operating short," Reds manager Dusty Baker said hours before his club opened a three-game series against the Dodgers on Monday night.

Votto, who has inflammation in his left knee that forced him out in the middle of Saturday's game against the Giants, has shown some improvement.

"Not much better but I feel better," Votto said. "It's improved but not to the point where I think they're comfortable with me starting. Ultimately, it's how I feel and if my knee has reacted positively. But we've got a long season to go. I don't want to risk banging up the knee some more because of it."

Baker and Votto weren't sure if the three-time All-Star first baseman would be available to pinch-hit.

"You certainly don't want to risk losing him for an extended period of time," Baker said.

There was no consideration of placing Votto, one of baseball's best hitters, on the disabled list.

"It's way too early," Baker said. "We'll just give him whatever time we think is necessary. I'm not even thinking DL."

Rolen, who exited Sunday's game in the first inning before he even batted, is still hurting from lower back spasms. On Monday, he moved gingerly through the clubhouse with a wrap on his back and was receiving electronic stimulation to calm it down. He was unlikely to be available off the bench.

"It could be a few days," Rolen said. "I've had similar back spasm issues and they seem to be with me two or three days. Today is normally the worst day and it just locks up on me. I will keep going, do some [abdominal] stuff, stuff I've done in the past to knock it out."

Rolen, who did not believe he needed another DL stint, felt his back betray him just as Zack Cozart led off the game against San Francisco.

"I took a few swings off the tee and it was a little tight," Rolen said. "I took another one, it was a little tighter. Since I was going to hit in a second, I said, 'Let's see what happens here. Something's gotta give.' The last one just locked up into spasms."

Both Votto's and Rolen's contributions were missed in Sunday's 4-3 loss. Neither were available when the Reds had a bases-loaded rally in the top of the ninth with a chance to take the lead. The team's best hitting pitcher, Mike Leake, is available for pinch-hitting duty to pick up some of the slack.

"Unless he's pitching the next day," Baker said. "We've got to give him plenty of time to get loose. I don't want to give him any last-minute calls and he pulls an oblique or leg muscle. Yesterday, his spikes were ready to go."