CINCINNATI -- Reds catcher Devin Mesoraco was not in the lineup vs. the Dodgers on Monday, while backup Brayan Pena was behind the plate to catch starting pitcher Tony Cingrani.
Mesoraco entered Monday in a 0-for-17 slump, his longest hitting drought of his career, and 1-for-18 on the homestand. It as lowered his overall average from .347 to .304.
"We've been running him hard," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "It gives Pena and Cingrani a chance to get linked up and give Devin really just a day off. He's basically been four out of every five and Pena has been catching [Johnny] Cueto exclusively."
Mesoraco, who was one of the Reds' hottest hitters in April and May between disabled list stints, and was batting .406 just 19 games into his season on May 23, came into Monday with nine home runs and 27 RBIs. Price wasn't worried about the recent dip.
"I didn't think he was going to hit .475 all year," Price said. "I never was with Tony Gwynn or George Brett or Wade Boggs but I was with Ichiro. It was maybe a .380 month followed by a .280 month. In the ebb and flow of the game, it's hard to maintain that level.
"I also know I've asked a few guys to slide into those middle order spots from time to time. I think there is a certain sense of obligation to all of a sudden now become a power threat or you've got to drive in runs with homers or extra-base hits. Keep the same approach. It's what has given you this opportunity to hit where you're hitting."
Chapman adds slider to devastating arsenal
CINCINNATI -- Reds left-handed closer Aroldis Chapman was already a rarity with his 100-mph fastball. Since he's returned from the disabled list, Chapman has shown another rare trait as a power closer with three strong pitches in his repertoire.
To collect his ninth save in the Reds' 4-1 win over the Phillies on Sunday, Chapman struck out the side. All three strikeout pitches were with his slider.
"A 100-mph fastball and 90-mph changeup. You'd say that's too hard. But it's not when the fastball is 100," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "That slider at 89-91, those brackets are unheard of, they really are. I think the only other person I know that throws a changeup as hard as that -- I saw Felix Hernandez striking some guys out yesterday at 88-89 on that changeup type of pitch, and he doesn't throw as hard as Chapman."
Entering Monday, Chapman had retired 19 batters in a row and 29 of 30 with one hit allowed. Since his lone blown save on May 21 at Washington, he's converted seven straight saves, with the last six being perfect appearances with 12 strikeouts. Chapman was activated from the DL on May 10 after being hit in the face by a line drive during Spring Training that fractured the bone above his left eye.
"It's a saying that you don't get beat with your third-best pitch. But if you're John Smoltz and you have a fastball, slider and split and all three are the best in the game, then what does it matter?" Price said. "With Chapman you've got fastball, slider, changeup, and they're all plus-plus pitches. Now, you can't say that."
One key to Chapman's success is that he's avoided walking batters. This season, he has only three walks in 13 innings.
With Chapman having a more diverse arsenal, could Price be more tempted to use him in multiple-inning saves?
"He will be used in those multiple-inning situations quite often when we feel we're short," Price said. "The guy that we've been bringing in for the eighth inning [Jonathan Broxton] has a [0.47] ERA. It's hard to argue with that."
Votto 1-for-3, Latos goes 5 2/3 in rehab game
CINCINNATI -- Reds first baseman Joey Votto, on the disabled list with a strained left quadriceps, went 1-for-3 with a single and a run scored against Pawtucket in a game called in the sixth inning because of rain. It was Votto's second rehab assignment game after he went 1-for-3 with a seventh-inning single on Sunday.
"We'll take a look there and see how it goes," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "He came out of [Sunday] feeling pretty good. I think the back-to-back will be a little bit more telling, and we'll see how he responds. I think that second game is the most important thing he'll do over the course of this rehab. It will be a little bit more telling on his readiness."
Price was not ready to say whether Votto could be activated from the DL after the second rehab game.
"I don't know. I don't want to talk about anything that doesn't need to be talked about right now," Price said.
Mat Latos made his final rehab start against Pawtucket, going 5 2/3 innings before play was halted.
Latos threw 82 pitches, allowing one run on four hits with three walks and four strikeouts. After the game was delayed by rain, Latos threw 19 pitches under the stands at McCoy Stadium to get to his intended goal of 100.
Latos, on the disabled list with elbow and knee injuries, is a candidate to start for the Reds on Saturday.
• The Reds announced the signing of 13 selections from the 2014 First-Year Player Draft on Monday. They included pitcher Wyatt Strahan (third round); third baseman Gavin LaValley (fourth round); pitcher Jose Lopez (sixth round); first baseman Brian O'Grady (eighth round); pitchers Brian Hunter (ninth round) and Seth Varner (10th round); third baseman Montrell Marshall (12th round); pitcher Zachary Cornell (13th round); outfielder James Pickens (15th round); and pitchers Tyler Sterner (23rd round), Brennan Bernadino (26th round), Jacob Paulson (27th round) and Michael Sullivan (29th round).