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All-Star first baseman Joey Votto activated from DL, returns to Reds' starting lineup

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CINCINNATI - Nobody in baseball likes to use injuries as an excuse, including Bryan Price.

That being said (one of Price's favourite phrases), the first-year Cincinnati Reds manager almost can't wait until Saturday.

That is when he plans to write pitcher Mat Latos' name into the starting lineup, all but giving Price his first look at the team he hoped to be managing when he took the job last October.

Latos and first baseman Joey Votto of Toronto completed rehab assignments with Triple-A Louisville on Monday.

Votto, sidelined since May 16 with a quadriceps strain in his left knee, was activated from the 15-day disabled list before Tuesday night's game against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Latos, who hasn't pitched all year after having surgery on his right elbow last October and his left knee on Valentine's Day, is tentatively scheduled to start Saturday in Milwaukee.

"This is as close to being whole as we've been all year," Price said Tuesday.

Votto was the 12th player placed on the disabled list by the Reds this season. Catcher Devin Mesoraco's two trips meant those 12 players had made a total of 13 appearances on the DL. Last season, 11 Reds players made a total of 15 appearances.

Votto was set to bat third Tuesday night. He hadn't played since going on the disabled list May 21, retroactive to May 16, with an injury to the same knee that required two operations in 2012. The Reds went 11-12 without the 2010 NL MVP, who was hitting .257 with six home runs and 12 RBIs in 39 games.

Votto spent Sunday and Monday with Louisville, going 2 for 6 with two strikeouts and grounding into a double play in two games at Pawtucket.

"I feel good," Votto said. "I'm looking forward to playing. I hold myself to a high standard. I wouldn't come back unless I felt like I could play to that high standard, so I'm not really concerned about what percentage people think I'm at. I'm going to come back and play well."

Latos, who has won 14 games in each of the past two seasons — his first two with the Reds — made his fourth rehab start Monday and lasted 5 2-3 innings in a game shortened by rain. He then continued to throw in an indoor batting cage to get his pitch count up to 100, the goal Price wanted the right-hander to reach before pitching for the Reds.

"I was ready five or six days ago," said Latos, who chafed at being forced to make a fourth rehab start. "The stuff's there. My velocity is there. Throwing sliders at 90 mph puts a lot of stress on your arm, so that should tell you something."

First baseman Donald Lutz was optioned to Louisville to make room on the roster for Votto. Lutz hit .154 (2 for 13) in seven games after being recalled from Louisville on May 23.

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