"I've got a pretty good eye on when I think guys are wearing down," Baker said. "Most of the time, it's mental, [a break] from the day-in, day-out daily grind. I told him show up late, don't hit today. I'm trying not to use him unless the game is on the line."
Votto has had a big season thus far, hitting .319 with 11 home runs and 33 RBIs entering Friday. He's cooled off a bit of late, as his average was .340 at the end of May, but he's still hit safely in nine of 12 games this month.
Replacing the All-Star first baseman in the field in Friday's 4-3, 10-inning win was Jack Hannahan, who has come in to play first in three of the four games Votto did not complete. Hannahan went 0-for-3, but his sacrifice fly in the sixth gave the Reds a 3-2 lead. Votto pinch-hit in the ninth, and walked in his only at-bat.
Brandon Phillips, who usually bats cleanup, moved up to third and went 1-for-5 with an RBI single and Jay Bruce hit fourth and had the game's biggest hit -- a walk-off homer..
Baker said that Hank Aaron once told him players should get 10-12 days off a year, and he tries to do that with most of his guys.
"Not as much with Joey at first base, because, like I said, it's not as strenuous of a position as center field, catching or shortstop. [But] Joey carries a lot of weight here offensively."
Jeremy Warnemuende is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.