CINCINNATI -- Reds backup outfielder and lefty hitter off the bench Xavier Paul continues to produce when called upon. It happened again in Sunday's 5-4 win as Paul lined a pinch-hit triple to lead off the ninth. He scored on Ryan Hanigan's single for the walk-off ending.
Paul is batting .342 with a .432 on-base percentage in 26 games since his July 18 callup from Triple-A Louisville. His success all but eliminated the Reds' search for an extra lefty hitter via trade.
"It's been fun to be able to be here with a team that's winning. I feel fortunate for the opportunity," said Paul, who was released by the Nationals on July 12 and was promptly signed by the Reds.
Paul started in left field for Game 1 of Saturday's doubleheader and hit a two-run home run in the second inning during a 5-3 Reds win over the Cubs. It was only the fourth homer of his big league career, and his first since Aug. 15, 2011, for the Pirates.
"It felt great, especially my first one as a Red," Paul said. "Hopefully I will get a couple of more down the road. It's been exciting from Day 1 when I got here. You feel the energy in the clubhouse. It's a fun bunch of guys that are hungry to win."
In 21 plate appearances for the Reds as a pinch-hitter, Paul is batting .389 (7-for-18) with three walks and only two strikeouts. He does whatever he can to remain sharp on bench in case he's summoned by manager Dusty Baker.
"I try to run every other inning and get a couple of sprints on the indoor track here," Paul said. "I stay mentally focused and prepared. I try to stay in the game every inning, watching from the dugout. I pay close attention to what's going on, so I'm on the same page with Dusty and know the way he's thinking. I look ahead. If I see them warming up a righty in the bullpen and the pitcher's spot is coming up, I make sure I'm ready ahead of time."
Though not pain free, Votto resumes field work
CINCINNATI -- Once again, injured Reds first baseman Joey Votto resumed baseball activity as he tries to work his way back from left knee surgery.
Votto played catch on Saturday and on Sunday morning, he took a round of ground balls at first base from third-base coach Mark Berry. After that, he ran on the field under the supervision of strength coach Matt Krause.
It was Votto's first field work since he had a second minor operation to remove cartilage from his knee on Aug. 10. With the resumption of baseball activity, Votto hoped the process of getting back to the lineup would accelerate.
"I anticipate so," Votto said before going on the field. "I'm healing every day and I'm able to do different things. But it's going to take its time, whenever it's ready."
There is still some pain in Votto's knee.
"Sure, there's pain. I just had a second surgery roughly a week ago," Votto said.
Votto, 28, has been out of the Reds' lineup since July 16 because of torn meniscus cartilage, which was repaired the following day. He was close to being ready to return when he re-injured the knee while doing sliding drills.
When the Reds begin a short four-game road trip at Philadelphia on Monday, Votto will not be with the club.
"I know he hates not going, because even at Spring Training, he mentioned to me about beating Philly," said Reds manager Dusty Baker, who met privately with Votto for about 10 minutes Sunday morning. "That's probably been our toughest spot to play in the last couple of years -- or them, period."