SD@CIN: Reds turn an inning-ending double play

CINCINNATI -- Reds first baseman Joey Votto, who was placed on the 15-day disabled list Wednesday with a left quadriceps strain, has made some moderate improvement in the past couple of days.

"The soreness, I can't say it's completely gone. It's much more controlled. The strength deficit is still a concern," Reds manager Bryan Price said on Friday.

Price conceded that Votto might not get back to 100 percent again this season because of the injury, but would like to get him as close as possible. Votto's DL move is retroactive to May 16.

"He would have come back and played and gladly have played at 50 percent," Price said. "He just doesn't have the base off which to hit off of. That affects his production, his ability to run the bases and cover ground at first base."

Bruce grateful for Reds' medical staff as he returns

CIN@PIT: Bruce singles to right to score Hamilton

CINCINNATI -- It took a total of 18 days for Reds right fielder Jay Bruce to go from having left knee surgery to getting back to the starting lineup.

Bruce, who was activated from the disabled list on Wednesday but did not play at Washington, batted fourth in Friday's series opener vs. the Cardinals.

"I worked hard to get back," Bruce said. "The medical staff is great. They helped me along the way. As professional athletes, we have the opportunity to come in and have a team full of people doing whatever they can to help you recover the quickest."

Bruce had arthroscopic surgery on May 5 to repair torn meniscus cartilage in his left knee after he was bothered by it for several weeks. It affected him at the plate, as he was batting .216 with three home runs and 14 RBIs prior to the surgery.

Originally, Bruce was expected to miss up to a month, but he made such rapid progress that he could return ahead of schedule.

"I got basically three weeks of complete and utter rehab. It was a very easy surgery," Bruce said. "Fortunately, we had [four] off-days in that span, so I only missed 13-14 games, which is really important to me."

The Reds' lineup often has sputtered this season, especially with injuries taking out Bruce, Joey Votto and Devin Mesoraco already. Manager Bryan Price did not want to put too much emphasis on Bruce's bat, however.

"I don't think I'll discuss expectations," Price said. "What I am happy about is how quickly he rebounded from the injury, No. 1, and No. 2, how badly he wants to come back and help the club. He's hitting fourth in the lineup because he's an impact bat. [But] he hasn't played for a couple of weeks."

Latos slated for 50-60 pitches in Sunday rehab start

Mat Latos' rehab start will likely be with Triple-A Louisville.

CINCINNATI -- Reds pitcher Mat Latos is slated to begin a Minor League rehab assignment on Sunday. It will most likely be at Triple-A Louisville.

"We like the competition at that level," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "They're home and they're close. It's probably the best fit for his first start."

Latos, who has been on the disabled list all season after having right elbow surgery in October and left knee surgery in February, had a setback in April when he strained the flexor mass muscle in his right forearm. He threw 40 pitches in a simulated game on Tuesday, and is expected to throw 50-60 pitches on Sunday.

"We'd like to see him potentially get into a fourth inning, but a lot of that will be dictated on his pitch efficiency," Price said.

Worth noting

• The Reds brought left-handed pitcher Matt Maloney back to the organization by signing him to a Minor League contract and assigning him to Louisville. Maloney, who pitched for Cincinnati from 2009-12, was most recently with Somerset in an independent league.