The Cincinnati Reds got a big boost on Saturday when first baseman Joey Votto returned to the line-up for the first time in eight days. Votto homered in his first two at bats, but the Reds lost to the Cleveland Indians 7-6.
Votto is batting .371 with seven home runs and 31 RBI in 116 at-bats this season. However, he is not in the Reds' starting line-up on Sunday due to the lingering effects of his inner-ear infection. Clearly he is far from out of the woods with the spells of dizziness and the problem continues to linger.
Second baseman Brandon Phillips is also out of Sunday's lineup for the Reds. He suffered a hairline fracture in the tip of his right thumb after taking a groundball of off his hands on Saturday night. Reportedly it is a small chip in his right hand (his throwing hand). It is unclear whether or not Phillips will head to the disabled list at this point.
After a slow start to the 2009 season, Phillips has been red hot of late. He is hitting.350 (28-for-80) with five homers and 27 RBIs in the month of May.
Jerry Hairston, Jr. will start at second base on Sunday for the Reds.
Without their No. 3 and 4 hitters, the Reds offense will struggle. A look at Sunday's starting lineup tells us all that we need to know:
CF Wily Taveras
2B Jerry Hairston
RF Jay Bruce
LF Jonny Gomes
1B Ramon Hernandez
3B Adam Rosales
SS Alex Gonzalez
C Ryan Hannigan
SP Johnny Cueto
It's not that the line-up is all that bad, but it is much weaker without Votto and in Phillips in the middle. The real hurdle though could come with Dusty Baker when he goes to the bench. At this point the team has not placed either player on the DL, and may not do so at all. That leaves the Reds' manager with few options late in the game.