Ailing Votto returns to DL with left quad injury
Backstop Pena back from paternity leave to take roster spot
CINCINNATI -- First baseman Joey Votto was placed on the 15-day disabled list on Tuesday, retroactive to Sunday, for the same injury that landed him on the DL earlier this season, a distal quad strain in his left knee.
"We did a full workup on Joey yesterday," manager Bryan Price said before Tuesday's day-night doubleheader against the Cubs. "There's definitely more soreness and a continued issue with it. It's something that he's just not going to be able to play on.
"Our plan of attack will be to do everything we can to get him back to be able to play over the course of the year. I don't have a timetable on how long that will be, but the goal is to get him back and able to help us before the year is out."
Price added that "it's probably not a 10- to 15-day issue," indicating Votto will likely be out longer.
Votto has posted a .255/.390/.409 line this season. Since returning from his first DL stint on June 10, he has batted .250 with no home runs and 11 RBIs in 23 games. Prior to being placed on the DL for the second time, it became apparent that Votto's knee continued to bother him, as he missed four games from June 27 through Monday.
Price said that Brayan Pena, who returned from paternity leave on Tuesday but wasn't in the starting lineup for the first game of the twin bill, will get the majority of playing time at first base while Votto is out, followed by Todd Frazier and, on occasion, Jay Bruce. Frazier started the opener against the Cubs.
"I'd like to kind of make that a position where we can rotate people through," Price said. "I think it allows us to utilize our bench better. We've been trying to do that in left field, but we still had some guys left out. If I rotate Frazier through there, it gets [Ramon] Santiago in the game. If I get Jay over there, it keeps our outfielders active."
Price said he may even have Ryan Ludwick, who plays left field and has never played first base professionally, take a few ground balls there to get familiar with the position.
"I just told them I've got a first-base mitt coming," Ludwick said on Tuesday. "Obviously, we're kind of in a bind right now, and there are a lot of parts or pieces that need to be put in different areas because of certain [factors], and I'll do whatever."
As for the Minor League options at the Reds' disposal, Price said he wants to see Donald Lutz perform better at the plate, but that Neftali Soto "would be a consideration." Price added, however, that he wants to utilize his bench before dipping into the Minor League ranks.
Lutz began the season at Double-A Pensacola, where he posted a .360/.412/.685 line with six home runs and 16 RBIs in 23 games. He was recalled by the Reds and batted .154 (2-for-13) in seven games from May 23 to June 9. With Triple-A Louisville, Lutz is currently batting .220 (24-for-109) with 42 strikeouts in 29 games.
Soto has been going in the opposite direction, currently batting .336 (36-for-107) with 11 doubles and 16 RBIs in 30 games for Louisville. In 19 games with the Reds earlier this season, he batted .107 (3-for-28).
When asked whether the Reds might look outside the organization to fill the void at first base as the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline approaches, Price didn't rule out the possibility.
"I think we'll see how things unfold here the next couple of weeks," Price said. "It's a talking point, but right now that's all it is."
Manny Randhawa is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.