Brandon Phillips returns to Reds lineup 40 days after tearing thumb ligament

CINCINNATI — Brandon Phillips is back, but is it too late?

The Reds second baseman missed 33 games over 40 days since tearing a ligament in his left thumb on July 9.

The Reds were 49-42 when Phillips went out and were hoping to hang in the playoff race until Phillips and Joey Votto came off the DL.

But the Reds (61-63) are 12-21 since Phillips went out and need a miracle to get back in the hunt.

They are 8 1/2 games out of first in the NL Central and 4 1/2 out of the second wild-card , with five teams ahead of them.

Manager Bryan Price dropped Phillips to sixth in the batting order for Monday night's game in St. Louis against right-hander Justin Masterson.

Votto (left quad strain) is making progress but can not be activated before Sept. 4. The Reds transferred him to the 60-day DL last week.

Pitcher Homer Bailey (strained tendon) went on the 15-day DL last week.

The Reds also reinstated RHP Logan Ondrusek Monday and optioned RHP Dylan Axelrod and C Tucker Barnhart to Louisville. RHP Curtis Partch was returned to Louisville.

The Reds had predicted Phillips, who had surgery July 11, would miss six weeks and he's coming back two days sooner.

Phillips was hurt making a sliding stop. He bent his thumb backward when his glove got stuck in the grass.

The four-time Gold Glove winner had one error in 378 chances this season. He was hitting .272 with seven homers and 40 RBI in 86 games.

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