Joey Votto: “I’m not ready to play yet”

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Joey Votto is three weeks into what was initially a 3-4 week recovery timetable for knee surgery, but told John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer that his return isn’t imminent:

I’m not ready to play yet. I’m moving in the right direction. I’m definitely not sure on a timetable. I’m not doing that to be coy, it’s because I genuinely don’t know which day. I’m making progress.

Votto is close enough to returning that the former MVP has been practicing his sliding, although manager Dusty Baker revealed to Brian Hedger of MLB.com that Votto “was a little sore after sliding and trying to get that muscle memory back.”

Of course, Baker also noted that Votto “needed a little work on his sliding before he hurt it.”

(Zing!)

Cincinnati won 16 of 19 games after placing Votto on the disabled list in mid-July, but the Reds have now lost five straight games to shrink their lead in the NL Central down to 2.5 games over the Pirates.

Video: Albert Almora, Jr. saved by the ivy

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The ALCS had a weird play in Game 4 on Tuesday night, but Game 4 of the NLCS did as well. This one involved Cubs outfielder Albert Almora, Jr. and his attempt to spark a rally in the bottom of the ninth inning against Dodgers reliever Ross Stripling.

After Alex Avila singled, Almora ripped a double to left field, past a diving Enrique Hernandez. The ball rolled to the ivy in front of the wall. Most outfielders there would’ve put their hands up, which would have alerted the umpires to call an immediate ground-rule double. Hernandez didn’t, instead fishing the ball out and firing it back into the infield. Avila had stopped at third base, but Almora kept running. Much to his surprise, he pulled up into third base to see his teammate standing there, resigned to his fate as a dead duck. Third baseman Justin Turner applied the tag on Almora for what he thought was the first out of the inning.

Almora, however, was then sent back to second base after the umpires correctly called a ground-rule double.

Unfortunately for the Cubs, the lucky break didn’t help as closer Kenley Jansen came in and took care of business, retiring all three batters he faced without letting an inherited runner score. The Dodgers won 6-1 and now lead the NLCS three games to none. They’ll try to punch their ticket to the World Series on Wednesday.