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Votto takes extra BP to shake loose some hits

CINCINNATI — Joey Votto, dressed in shorts and a sweat shirt, was on the Great American Ball Park field early Thursday afternoon, before regularly scheduled batting practice began.

First, manager Bryan Price flipped the ball underhanded (left handed) to him for a while. Then Price pitched a full-bodied batting practice session (left handed) to the hit-starved Votto, trying hard to pump some life into his .182 batting average.

“We were doing a drill that requires somebody that can actually flip the ball left handed,” said Price. “The live BP was just something we decided in the aftermath of the flip drills.”

DID PRICE STRAIGHTEN out Votto’s miseries?

“My advice to hitters is that if you are listening to my advice about hitting then you are in the wrong room, buddy. Run with your life,” said Price.

Vote has played every game and Price was asked if maybe a day off might clear the cob-webs because it has worked in the past when Vote lapsed into mini-funks.

“I’ve talked to him and he feels like he really wants to see the pitches and get the at-bats,” said Price. “If I feel like a day off would be a benefit for him then I’d take the initiative. Right now he really likes playing and figuring things out, like any competitive guy would.”

JUMPING ABOVE WALLS to snatch back home runs and jumping against walls to try to snag home runs and making diving catches and attempts to make diving catches can have negative outcomes.

That’s the case with center fielder Billy Hamilton, who won’t be in the lineup for at least a couple of days, if not more, with a jammed thumb on his glove hand.

“Billy is a little beat up,” said Price. “On the two balls he went over the wall for in St. Louis, one that he caught and on the other he banged up his thumb. We knew he had a little contusion and it didn’t seem to be an issue but then he dove for a ball Wednesday and it became more of an issue with some thumb soreness.”

Price said Hamilton can hit and run but he’ll have a splint on the thumb for a few days.

DURING HAMILTON’S absence, center field probably will be manned for the most part by Scott Scherber.

“When we traded for Scherber we knew he could play all three outfield spots,” said Price. “It isn’t like we’re introducing him to center field because he has played it before. I like the way that he is not afraid of running into the gaps, knowing there is another outfielder out there, or going up against the wall or coming in on the ball.

“The key is being able to go back on balls and to come in on balls and not be afraid to lay out for balls,” Price added. “To me he has looked comfortable out there.”

THE BASEBALL FRATERNITY can be very kind to each other, even while they are trying to yank down each other’s pants during a game.

Zack Cozart missed the last half of last season after destroying his knee running to first base. After a long winter of hard work, he is back in the lineup

When he led off the first game of a three-game series in Wrigley Field last week, former Cincinnati catcher David Ross was behind the plate.

“Hey, it’s good to have you back out here,” Ross said to Cozart. During the first week of the season the Cubs lost Middletown native Kyle Schwarber to the same kind of season-ending knee injury.

WHEN ROSS SPOKE to Cozart, he immediately answered with, “I appreciate that. Tell Schwarber I had the exact same thing and mine actually was a little bit worse because I also had a hamstring tendon messed up, too. I’m 9 1/2 months from my surgery and I’m playing shortstop in the big leagues.

“I just wanted to let Schwarber know that he is going to be fine,” Cozart said. “When it happens you are pretty bummed out, especially a young kid that energizes that club. He is going to come back stronger than ever because he has more time than I had.”

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “We’re 8-and-7 and we’re playing good at home. Any team after 15 games of the season would be happy to be playing reasonable baseball the first two weeks of the season. We’re playing reasonable baseball.” — Reds manager Bryan Price.

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