The Cincinnati Reds received some brutal news on Monday.
BREAKING: @reds 1B Joey Votto diagnosed with torn meniscus in left knee, to undergo surgery Tuesday. Expected recovery time is 3-to-4 weeks.— MLB (@MLB) July 16, 2012
UPDATE: Wednesday, September 5, 11:30 a.m. ET by Donald Wood
The Cincinnati Reds will get a major piece of the puzzle back in the on the field Wednesday, as the team’s Twitter account has announced that All-Star first baseman Joey Votto will be in the starting lineup.
Wednesday's Lineup vs. Phillies: Phillips 4, Heisey 8, Votto 3, Ludwick 7, Bruce 9, Frazier 5, Navarro 2, Gregorius 6, Leake 1— Reds (@Reds) September 5, 2012
With the Reds already having an 8.5 game lead in the NL Central, the addition of Votto now will cement their spot in the playoffs and allow him to get healthy for what could be a lengthy playoff run.
Votto was batting .342 with 14 home runs and 49 RBI in just 87 games before going down with his knee injury.
The addition of the All Star back into the lineup makes Cincinnati one of the toughest teams in all of baseball right now.
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UPDATE: Tuesday, September 4 at 3:00 p.m. ET by Timothy Rapp
He's baaaaaa-aaaaccckkk. Well, just about back, according to the MLB's official Twitter account:
The Reds remain a commanding 8.5 games above the St. Louis Cardinals in the standings, and now they get the team's best player back. Things are looking up in Cincinnati.
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UPDATE: Sunday, September 2 at 12:40 p.m. ET by Adam Wells
The sudden gust of air you feel coming from the state of Ohio is the sigh of relief from Reds fans, as Joey Votto is inching closer to making his return, though it could be a little longer.
According to John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer, Votto could be back on Monday, though "it is not certain."
“He said he felt very good (Saturday),” [head trainer Paul] Lessard said. “He’s moving well, pivoting. Walt (Jocketty) and Dusty (Baker) told him at the start to get at-bats to get comfortable at the plate as well as to see if he was physically ready. He missed six weeks.”
The Reds have a great luxury right now, as Todd Frazier has done a tremendous job filling for Votto as he has been out and their division lead is 8.5 games over St. Louis.
Obviously, the team will be better with Votto back, but there is no need to rush him before he is 100 percent ready.
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UPDATE: Friday, August 31, 2:05 p.m. ET by Ben Chodos
The good news continues regarding Joey Votto's return to the Cincinnati Reds and he will likely be back in the lineup by Monday.
John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer reported the new via Twitter.
Votto is playing in Dayton tonight. I'd expect him to join the #Reds Monday when they open series with Philly at home.— John Fay (@johnfayman) August 31, 2012
The Reds currently hold an 8.5-game lead over the St. Louis Cardinals in the NL Central, and getting Votto back will be a massive boost heading into the postseason.
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UPDATE: Wednesday, August 29, 10:50 a.m. ET by Donald Wood
After suffering a knee injury that many felt could end the slugger’s season, the Cincinnati Reds’ star first baseman, Joey Votto, is on pace to rejoin the team sooner than many expected.
Tom Groeschen of the Cincinnati Enquirer is reporting about Votto’s rehab assignment and when he could be back in the Reds lineup:
Votto hopes to bat at least three times in his second rehab game Wednesday night in Dayton. If all goes well, Votto will fly to Houston and be activated during the Reds-Astros series this weekend.
When the words “torn meniscus” are thrown around with a timetable of three to four weeks, it is flat-out unreasonable. Those injuries take a long time to heal, and the Reds were not going to rush their franchise star back only to re-injure the knee.
If Votto is coming back as the report says, the Reds will have signed off on it only after he looks 100 percent and there is no chance of more damage. They should be treating one of MLB’s best with this much care.
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Update: Friday, August 24 at 4:30 p.m. ET by Ryan Rudnansky
Joey Votto will do "baseball activities" today, according to Tom Groeschen of the Cincinnati Enquirer:
Votto will do baseball activities today, still no exact timetable for return: 'I really miss playing.' #reds— Tom Groeschen (@TomGroeschen) August 24, 2012
Reds head trainer Paul Lessard said, via MLB.com, "He's been hitting in the cage, running and taking ground balls."
Lessard said the Reds would take a look at Votto on Friday and see where to go from there.
Update: Saturday, August 11 at 3 p.m. ET by Ben Chodos
The long wait for Joey Votto's return will continue a little while longer.
The Cincinnati Inquirer's Tom Groeschen reports via Twitter that an additional procedure on the first baseman's knee was needed.
Votto returned to Cincy last night and had minor procedure to remove piece of floating cartilage. Add 7-10 days to recovery time #reds— Tom Groeschen (@TomGroeschen) August 11, 2012
Despite his absence, the Reds have managed to hold onto first place in the NL Central. Votto's return to the lineup will certainly give the team a boost heading toward the postseason.
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Votto’s statement makes it sound as if it is a problem that has to be addressed now to ensure it doesn’t hamper him down the stretch (via ESPN):
It is in my best interest and in the best interest of the team to do it now so that I can be healthy during the last two months of the pennant race.
The injury occurred before the All-Star break against the San Francisco Giants on June 29 when he was sliding into third base. He played the rest of that night but was removed from the next game after three plate appearances.
Votto sat out the following two but played in the team’s next nine contests as well as last week’s All-Star Game. He even had two hits and an RBI in Sunday night's win over the St. Louis Cardinals.
This is a crushing blow for a Reds team that has been heavily reliant on the offensive excellence of the 2010 MVP.
In 86 games this season, Votto has accumulated a .342 average with 14 home runs, 49 RBI and a 1.069 OPS. His 36 doubles put him on pace to break the all-time single-season doubles record held by Earl Webb, who had 67 in 1931. The chances of breaking that record have now gone out the window.
With Votto, the Reds rank 17th in runs (370) and 20th in batting average (.249) and on-base percentage (.315).
The good news for Cincinnati, which entered Monday night with a one-game lead in the National League Central, is that the next 17 games are against teams with a record under .500.
Rookie Todd Frazier played first and batted third Monday night against the Arizona Diamondbacks, and he will likely receive the majority of the playing time in Votto’s absence.