Joey Votto returns to Reds lineup for first time since July

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Joey Votto returned from the disabled list yesterday, but wasn’t in the Reds’ starting lineup and didn’t appear in the game off the bench.

That all changes this afternoon, as Votto officially completes his comeback from knee surgery by being in the lineup for the first time since July 15.

It’ll be interesting to see how often (and how well) Votto plays down the stretch, because Todd Frazier’s emergence in his absence leaves manager Dusty Baker with some tough lineup decisions and Votto admitted yesterday that he’s returning despite not being 100 percent healthy.

For today’s game Votto is starting at first base and batting third, while Frazier is starting at third base with Scott Rolen on the bench.

53-year-old Rafael Palmeiro homers in independent league ball

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It was announced earlier this month that 53-year-old Rafael Palmeiro signed a contract with the Cleburne Railroaders of the independent American Association, joining his son, former minor leaguer Patrick Palmeiro. The four-time All-Star went 0-for-8 to begin his stint with the club before launching a solo homer in the fifth inning last night. Check it out below.

If we’re being technical here, that was his first home run since July 30, 2005. He hit the homer off 28-year-old Trey McNutt, former prospect with the Cubs and Padres. Palmeiro made his major league debut in 1986, three years before McNutt was born.

Palmeiro told Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic last December that he was thinking about a comeback, but he understandably didn’t garner any serious consideration from MLB teams. This comeback attempt might not lead anywhere, but hey, he gets to show that he can still mash while hitting in the same lineup with his son. Palmeiro did that once before with the independent Sugar Land Skeeters in 2015, though it was just a one-game thing. As for the Railroaders, the national media attention can only help them.

Palmeiro is one of just six players in MLB history to reach 3,000 hits and 500 home runs, but he’s been a disgraced figure in the game since a failed drug test for performance-enhancing drugs in 2005. He dropped off the Hall of Fame ballot in 2014.