CINCINNATI (AP) Reds first baseman Joey Votto is recovering from a strained muscle above his left knee and could soon begin a rehabilitation assignment in the minors.
Votto has been on the disabled list since May 21, trying to get rid of inflammation and to strengthen the muscle. He stayed in Cincinnati to get treatment on the leg while the team was on a seven-day trip.
He was cleared to take batting practice with the team on Tuesday before the opener of a series against the San Francisco Giants. Rain washed out batting practice on the field, forcing players to hit indoors. He's also going to take infield practice and run the bases the next few days.
If he gets through that without a problem, he will start a rehab assignment. He and the team haven't decided how many games he'll need before he's ready to return. The Reds have gone 8-8 without him.
''I feel really good, like I was before I got hurt earlier on in the season,'' Votto said. ''So if I can get to good place, you're going to see a little bit more of the older version of me - the younger version of me. It's one of these injuries that take a little bit of time.''
Votto is the 12th Reds player to go on the disabled list this season. The 2010 National League MVP is batting .257 with six homers and 12 RBIs in 39 games.
The Reds are getting closer to having their lineup, rotation and bullpen back to full strength. Relievers Aroldis Chapman, Jonathan Broxton and Sean Marshall opened the season on the DL but have returned. Votto is the only regular position player still missing.
Right-handed starter Mat Latos is scheduled to make another rehab start on Wednesday. If that goes well, he could be activated. Latos has been on the disabled list all season recovering from knee surgery and a strained forearm.
The Reds opened their series on Tuesday with a 26-29 mark, in fourth place in the NL Central. They trailed Milwaukee by 7 1-2 games.
''I think getting Joey back and possibly Mat Latos back in the rotation (soon) is definitely going to be a positive bump, not just for improving the 25-man roster but getting guys enthused that we're close to being whole,'' manager Bryan Price said. ''I think we'd all be excited to see our club at full strength.''
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