Votto could wait until after Astros series to return

Votto could wait until after Astros series to return

HOUSTON -- The Reds originally expected first baseman Joey Votto to join the team this weekend after he missed nearly six weeks with a torn medial meniscus in his left knee.

Votto was in the lineup at Class A Dayton again on Friday, though, and Reds manager Dusty Baker doesn't want to rush the slugger back from his rehabilitation.

"I wouldn't rule it out, but I would probably prefer that he didn't, to tell you the truth," said Baker of Votto joining the team in Houston for the series against the Astros. "We need him really ready when he gets here, in all departments."

The Reds return to Cincinnati for a nine-game homestand on Monday.

In Votto's first two appearances at Dayton, he went 1-for-3 (two walks, one strikeout). He went 0-for-2 with a walk and a sacrifice fly on Friday before exiting for a pinch-runner. Baker said Votto will have most of the control over when he returns to the Reds. The front office will certainly pay attention to his status, though.

"Joey is a very intelligent, very astute young man that has a pretty good idea of what's going on, especially in his body," Baker said.

The Reds entered Friday's game 30-14 since Votto left the lineup on July 16. Their lead in the National League Central has increased from one game to 8 1/2, a season high.

On Aug. 11, doctors removed a floating piece of cartilage from Votto's knee, which delayed his original return timetable.