PHILADELPHIA -- Reds catcher Devin Mesoraco didn't start behind the plate on Saturday against the Phillies, one day after coming off of the disabled list because of a strained left hamstring. Mesoraco caught Friday's 3-0 shutout and hit the game-winning three-run homer.
Manager Bryan Price opted to start Tucker Barnhart at catcher, since he has worked well with starting pitcher Homer Bailey this season. But that wasn't the primary reason Mesoraco was out. It was about trying to be careful.
"Instead of total immersion," Price said. "[Mesoraco is] going to be our regular catcher. You're not going to see him catch two out of every five. On his way back from a rehab, I don't think it makes a great deal of sense to play him every day. [Brayan] Pena will most likely continue to catch Johnny Cueto. That's been a very good relationship. You'll see a lot of Devin Mesoraco. He's going to play [Sunday], so I'll give him today off."
Reds considering options with injured Votto
PHILADELPHIA -- Reds first baseman Joey Votto, diagnosed on Friday with a distal strain of his left quadriceps, remained in Cincinnati on Saturday to continue rehabilitation. What happens next remains unclear.
The club has not put Votto on the disabled list, but that still remained an option.
"We are going to assess here, by the end of this series, where he is," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "If there's a decision to be made in regards to a possible rejoining the club to play [or] possible DL ... right now we're not in any hurry to make that assessment. We don't need to with the roster at this point. Moving forward, we may have to."
With only four starting pitchers currently on the roster, there is no manpower pinch without Votto, since the bench still has five players and bullpen has seven pitchers. But that will change on Sunday, with Tony Cingrani set to be activated from the DL to start vs. the Phillies in the series finale.
Even if Votto avoids the DL, Price could not say whether or not he might re-join the club when the road trip moves on to Washington on Monday.
"I honestly don't know," Price said. "I really don't want to be coy with you guys on this thing. It's really hard to tell. We're still optimistic that he may not need to go on the DL. That being said, we'll probably have more clarity to that once we get through this weekend series and see how things evolve."
Votto, who was batting .182 over his last 16 games, remained in Cincinnati after some discomfort in his left knee prompted him to undergo the MRI exam. Since it was the same knee that required two arthroscopic surgeries in 2012, there was relief that the test showed a quad strain and not a knee injury.
"I'm optimistic that after that report, Joey can come back and not necessitate a DL," Price said. "[But] we want him back as Joey Votto, not as a shell or shadow of who he is. We want him to play confidently on that knee and that leg for the rest of the season and the rest of his career moving forward.
"If that means that it takes two weeks or three weeks to get it right, that's OK. We also don't want to put him on the DL if we honestly feel it might be a 4-7 day turnaround."
Latos set for simulated game on Tuesday
PHILADELPHIA -- Reds starting pitcher Mat Latos threw off of a mound on Saturday for the third time since an April setback of a strained flexor mass tendon. Latos threw 35 pitches in the bullpen at Citizens Bank Park.
"Fantastic. I threw everything -- fastball, changeup, slider, curveball," Latos said. "I threw from the wind-up and I threw from the stretch."
On Tuesday in Washington, Latos is scheduled to face Reds hitters in a simulated game.
"I think the game plan is to see a righty and a lefty or a couple of righties and a couple of lefties in Washington," Latos said.
One of the lefty hitters will be right fielder Jay Bruce, who is also on the disabled list after he had left knee surgery on May 5.
"I think they wanted me to give Jay Bruce an ego boost before he comes back," Latos joked. "I'm going to go out there and lay it down the middle, and hopefully he hits four home runs off me so we can get him back as soon as possible."
Latos could begin a rehab assignment shortly after his simulated game, and an early June activation from the DL remains possible. But it's been a long process since his October elbow surgery to remove bone chips and a February surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee.
"I don't want to get too excited, because we've been down this road before and then I had that flare-up and setback," Latos said. "Knock on wood, but everything is going really well. It's going great. The bullpen sessions feel really good. The ball feels like it's jumping out of my hand. I feel like I've got good action on my pitches. I'm able to throw all of my pitches. It wasn't an issue beforehand, but it's still a good thing. We're still on the right track."
Bruce making strides in rehab from knee surgery
PHILADELPHIA -- Reds right fielder Jay Bruce continues to make rapid progress since his May 5 arthroscopic surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee. On Friday, Bruce began performing agility drills and followed up on Saturday by shagging fly balls in the outfield for the first time.
"Medium level, though. Nothing too aggressive," Bruce said. "It felt good, a little awkward, just because I haven't done it. I'm still obviously recovering. I felt good, running around, no problems at all. I took it easy. I made some cuts and stuff like that."
Bruce, who resumed taking batting practice on Tuesday, also hit on the field Saturday after working in the field. He is expected to hit in a simulated game pitched by Mat Latos on Tuesday in Washington.
"Absolutely no pain," Bruce said. "Hitting felt the most normal it has in a long time. So that's awesome. Throwing is good. Everything is great. Everything's going really well right now. The running is going to be the part that's going to have to progress and I'm going to have to listen to my body. Today, though, I did some strides and had them open up a little bit to chase some balls down."
Originally, Bruce was expected to miss four weeks after his surgery.
"Personally I'd like to think it'd be less than that, but at the end of the day it's going to be a collective agreement and I have to progress," Bruce said.