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Reds option Barnhart; bench shorthanded

Reds option Barnhart; bench shorthanded

PHILADELPHIA -- The Reds activated lefty pitcher Tony Cingrani from the 15-day disabled list to start Sunday's game vs. the Phillies, as expected. To make room on the 25-man roster, catcher Tucker Barnhart was optioned to Triple-A Louisville.

But the move had ramifications for the team beyond the two affected players. The Reds' bench will now be shorthanded with only four players as the club awaits the return of injured first baseman Joey Votto.

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"I think we'll inevitably have to make a decision on what we're capable of doing and exactly how much time we feel, organizationally, Joey will need to be ready to help us again," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "That time hasn't come yet."

Cincinnati still has Brayan Pena and Neftali Soto to back up Devin Mesoraco behind the plate. Both Pena and Soto are also sharing duties replacing Votto at first base. Soto started there both Saturday and Sunday. Pena will be there in Washington.

"Brayan will probably play first base two times and catch one," Price said. "Under different circumstances, he'd be playing first base [Saturday] and today, but we've got to see what Nefi can provide us against these left-handed starters.

"The thing about having Brayan in the lineup when he's playing first base is we have that opportunity, if we had to, to put him behind the plate and Nefi over at first. Or put [Todd] Frazier at first and [Ramon] Santiago at third. I don't feel like I'm in a bind at all. We basically still have three catchers on the roster, counting Nefi. I'm confident in a pinch that Neftali can go back there and catch and throw and call a reasonable game. He's working on it."

While the Reds still deliberate whether to put Votto on the DL because of a strained left quadriceps, they will not try to rush him back to playing. It's still not known if he will join the team for the next series vs. the Nationals.

"He's getting the soreness out. He's getting better," Price said. "It really is a day-to-day situation, but we'll get to that day where we say we either need that extra bench player or we don't. I really want a strong foundation for Joey to return feeling healthy and confident that he can play to his level instead of trying to manage a player at 50-60 percent ability. It's not fair to him and it's not fair to the team."

Over two stints with the Reds, Barnhart is batting .107 in 10 games, but he has impressed the club with his work behind the plate.

"Tucker has been great," Price said. "Tucker is going to Triple-A so he can play, and that's it. His time will come here at the Major League level with the Reds. He's a strong defender. Guys like throwing to him. He's a great competitor, a total pro. It's everything we preach here and want on this roster."

Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Mark My Word, and follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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