Joey Votto ‘continuing to chase greatness’

The Reds’ Joey Votto drives in a run with a sacrifice fly against the Giants on Friday, May 5, 2017, at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati. David Jablonski/Staff

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The Reds’ Joey Votto drives in a run with a sacrifice fly against the Giants on Friday, May 5, 2017, at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati. David Jablonski/Staff

Joey Votto has ended talk of another slow start. The Cincinnati Reds first baseman hit .409 in the first eight games of a nine-game homestand, and he smashed his team-best 10th home run Monday in a 10-4 loss to the New York Yankees.

Votto played his 1,301st game in the big leagues Tuesday at Great American Ball Park. He shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon.

“I see a guy continuing to chase greatness and excellence,” Reds manager Bryan Price said. “It’s not astonishing, but for guys that are experienced and have had a lot of success, it’s probably a lot easier for those guys to maybe pull back on the reins a little bit, and I’ve never seen him do that.”

Votto was hitting .210 on April 21. He’s now hitting .286. He’s tied for seventh in the National League in home runs and tied for third in RBIs (29).

“I like the way he’s swinging the bat,” Price said. “He’s got the barrel on the ball. He still has the great strike-zone command. In every part of his game, I’ve seen improvement.”

Cingrani update: Reliever Tony Cingrani threw his first bullpen session Tuesday since going on the disabled list April 21 with a strained right oblique muscle.

“He threw a 15-pitch bullpen with no restrictions,” Price said. “The ball came out of his hand good. He didn’t have any other issues. He’ll progress and throw another bullpen on Friday, and we’ll assess whether we’re going to do three bullpens and a rehab or two bullpens and two rehabs.”

Rough night: Reds reliever Drew Storen hit three batters in the seventh inning Monday. He's the first Reds pitcher to hit three batters in an inning since Raul Sanchez in 1960.

“It’s a unique scenario,” Price said. “Obviously, there’s zero intent. You’re trying to make pitches, and you’re missing a ways off the plate. I can’t imagine he’ll do that again in a lifetime. Wildness has not really been an issue with him. He’s been really good around the plate with his stuff.”

Storen allowed two earned runs in one inning. He’s 1-0 with a 2.40 ERA in 14 appearances.

Hit streak: Backup infielder and outfielder Arismendy Alcantara has seven hits in his last seven plate appearances. He has five singles, one double and a triple. Steve Selsky had seven hits in a row last season. Bip Roberts is the only Red to have hits in more than seven straight plate appearances. He had 10 straight in 1992.

“I couldn’t be happier for Mendy because he shows up positive and happy every day,” Price said. “He’s been really challenged to get his foot in the door in the big leagues and create a role and a niche for himself, and he’s found one, and he’s young enough to create an environment where he can play himself into a regular role.”

Looking ahead: The Reds are off Wednesday and begin a four-game series in San Francisco on Thursday. After playing the Giants, who the Reds swept in three games last weekend, the Reds head to Wrigley Field for three games against the Chicago Cubs.

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