Joey Votto ripped a pair of singles in his first two spring training exhibition at-bats Friday against the Cleveland Indians, but he wasn’t in Saturday’s lineup against the Tribe.

Perhaps that shows how hard Votto worked in the off-season to strengthen his surgically repaired knee, because historically he starts slow, saving his hits for when it counts.

“We have a long way to go, especially with seven extra games this spring,” said manager Dusty Baker. “It is not only Joey, we gave other guys off Saturday (Zack Cozart, Ryan Ludwick, Jay Bruce and Ryan Hanigan).

“I’m playing Joey and the regulars to progress them toward Opening Day,” Baker added. “Joey will let me know. He’ll say he needs some more at-bats or that he is sore and needs a day off. Joey knows how to get himself ready.

“Joey knows when he feels ready and I sure don’t want him ready right now,” said Baker. “I was actually surprised how ready he was Friday.”