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Votto closer to returning

CINCINNATI (AP) — First baseman Joey Votto had a full workout on Friday, suggesting he’s close to rejoining the Cincinnati Reds.

Votto took ground balls on the field as part of his workout before the start of a series against the St. Louis Cardinals. He’s had two operations since July 17 to repair torn cartilage in his left knee.

Votto was close to returning this month, but re-injured the knee while practicing sliding.

He had another procedure on Aug. 10.

There have been no setbacks during his second round of rehabilitation.

“I’ve come a long way and I feel I’m not too far off,” Votto said. “I can’t really put a day on it. I don’t think it’s going to be too much longer.”

The Reds have thrived since Votto got hurt, going 26-12 with a seven-game lead over second-place St. Louis in the NL Central heading into their series.

The 2010 National League MVP was batting .342 with 14 homers and 49 RBIs when he got hurt, leading the league in doubles, walks, on-base percentage and extra-base hits. He tore the cartilage while sliding into third base during a game on June 29, but played for two more weeks because it was improving.

He aggravated it again and had an MRI that found the tear, prompting surgery on July 17. He was close to being ready to play when he hurt the knee again while sliding as part of his rehab. He had a 6-minute surgical procedure to fix the cartilage again.

Sliding won’t be part of his latest regimen.

“I don’t think we’re going to be doing any sliding,” Votto said.

When Votto got hurt, he was the Reds’ only consistent hitter, raising concerns about whether they’d be able to score enough runs to stay in the thick of the race.

“I don’t think I carry a team or do anything along those lines,” Votto said. “I fit in. And this is a great example of how small of an impact a player can have. You lose a quarterback in the NFL, that team’s in trouble. You look at Indianapolis. And then (if) you lose a star in the NBA … But that’s not how it works in baseball.

“I realize that. If I didn’t realize that, this stretch has certainly shown me.”


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