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Reds revamp bench for series with Cardinals, RF Jay Bruce back in starting lineup

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CINCINNATI - The Reds revamped their bench for a series against the St. Louis Cardinals on Friday, calling up outfielder Donald Lutz and optioning infielder Neftali Soto to Triple-A Louisville.

They also had right fielder Jay Bruce back in the starting lineup for the series opener. Bruce had surgery to repair torn cartilage in his left knee on May 5. He was activated Wednesday, but didn't appear in a 2-1 victory at Washington.

"They said the recovery time would be three to four weeks," Bruce said. "I've had three weeks of utter rehab. So we're right around that mark.

"I'm happy to be healthy again."

The Reds still are missing first baseman Joey Votto, on the disabled list with a strained muscle above his left knee. Votto hasn't played since May 15. It's unclear when he might return.

Cincinnati opened the season with eight players on the disabled list, the most in the majors, and have had 13 players sidelined already this season. They've scored only 160 runs, the third-fewest in the National League.

Manager Bryan Price was hopeful that having Bruce back in the lineup would help the offence get started.

"There's a lot of good things that are starting to happen," Price said. "I continue to be optimistic that this is the type of group that I know is capable of doing more damage than we've done to this point."

Lutz played in 34 games for the Reds last season. He opened this season at Double-A Pensacola and was promoted to Louisville. Soto batted .107 with one RBI in 19 games.

Lutz can fill in at first base and in the outfield, giving Price more options.

"He's got power," Price said. "He's got speed. He's got good youthful aggression and he brings all the right type of energy that we want to the ballpark. He's a good corner outfield defender. He's played first base."

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Follow Joe Kay on Twitter: http://twitter.com/apjoekay

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