Joey Votto is still feeling discomfort in his quad

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Reds first baseman Joey Votto took ground balls on Wednesday and swung a bat on Thursday, but he hasn’t responded as well as the club expected, reports C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer. Votto is not with the Reds as they open up a series in Pittsburgh.

Votto has been out since July 8 with a left distal quad strain. There’s increasing belief that Votto could not return this season, as only 28 games remain going into their series opener tonight.

Manager Bryan Price on Votto:

“He took a few ground balls (Wednesday). It wasn’t as good a result as we had hoped. There was still some fairly significant discomfort when he got lateral side-to-side so we had back off with that and stay with some strengthening and whatever the physical therapy protocols are. We hope when we get back there are some marked improvement. He took some light swings yesterday and he’ll be able to gradually increase baseball workload based on how he feels.”

Due in part to the injury, Votto was posting some of the worst numbers of his career, slashing .255/.390/.409 with six home runs and 23 RBI in 272 plate appearances prior to landing on the disabled list.

Watch: Cody Bellinger breaks NL rookie home run record

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Cody Bellinger helped the Dodgers to their first lead on Friday night, going deep for his 39th home run of the season and setting a new National League rookie home run record in the process. With two on and two out in the third inning, the Dodgers’ slugger launched a 2-1 pitch from the Giants’ Jeff Samardzija, skimming the right field fence to give the team a three-run cushion:

The three-run bomb was Bellinger’s sixth of the season. In what is undoubtedly a Rookie of the Year award-worthy campaign, he’s logged 21 solo shots, 11 two-run blasts and a single grand slam. His historic home run topped former NL rookie leaders Frank Robinson and Wally Berger, at 38 homers apiece.

The Dodgers need to stay on top of the Giants to clinch the NL West or, barring that, have the Marlins pull off a win over the Diamondbacks. They currently lead the Giants 4-1 in the bottom of the fifth inning. The Marlins, meanwhile, are staying just ahead of the D-backs with a 9-7 lead in the top of the sixth.

Report: Derek Jeter and Bruce Sherman initiate Marlins’ staff cuts

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A report from Barry Jackson and Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald reveals that prospective Marlins’ owners Derek Jeter and Bruce Sherman have already initiated several key firings within the organization. While the sale of the team is still pending final approval next month, Jeter reportedly pushed club president David Samson to remove four special assistants this week: Andre Dawson, Tony Perez, Jack McKeon and Jeff Conine.

Hall of Fame infielder Dawson, outfielder Perez and Marlins’ legend Conine served as special assistants to the president. McKeon, who served as team manager from 2003-2005 (and briefly in 2011), was terminated from a 12-year post as special assistant to owner Jeffrey Loria.

The move didn’t come as a big surprise to Dawson and McKeon, Jackson and Spencer noted. It’s part and parcel of dealing with new ownership. But it was disappointing news nonetheless, especially as the long-tenured McKeon might lose an opportunity to return next September to manage one game and cement his status as the oldest manager in MLB history.

Should the Marlins’ sale go through in October as expected, this figures to be the beginning of several cuts. Per Jackson and Spencer:

Jeter also is expected to fire some people on the baseball side of the operation, though it’s believed president/baseball operations Michael Hill will be retained, at least indefinitely if not permanently.

Any replacements for those already released from the team have yet to be announced.