CINCINNATI -- The Reds could be without first baseman Joey Votto for a month after he fractured his left thumb during Wednesday’s 1-0 10-inning win over the White Sox. The club placed Votto on the injured list on Friday and reinstated outfielder Shogo Akiyama from the injured list.
Votto sustained the injury while batting in the bottom of the fourth inning, when he was hit by a pitch from White Sox starter Dallas Keuchel.
"I'm surprised it took this long, to be honest with you. I think I have 10,000 professional plate appearances in that range, so ... yeah. It's part of the game,” said Votto, who was playing in his 1,800th career game on Wednesday.
It was an 0-2 changeup from Keuchel that caught Votto on the hand.
“It had some good action on it, and obviously, it ran in farther than I would have liked it to,” Keuchel said. “I'm not trying to hit Joey, by any means. … I'm hoping that he's going to be OK, and moving forward, I’ve got to make better pitches. But first and foremost, we need Joey in the game and it's a joy to pitch against him. I was very mad at myself for that instance, and I wish him well."
After Votto was hit, he immediately shook his hand in pain as he jogged to first base, but he remained in the game at the time. He went for X-rays and he was surprised when the medical staff informed him of the fracture.
“I knew I was in pain,” Votto said. “I thought I was being a baby. I just wanted to stay in the game, but I didn't think I could grip the bat and I was having a hard time putting my glove on. I could run and I was moving well, and I thought, 'Just give it some time, it should shake at some point. Maybe it's just one of those [where] your thumb gets jammed in a door or something like that and it just goes away.' It broke, what are you going to do?”
Kyle Farmer replaced Votto at first base for the top of the sixth inning.
The Reds were told by the doctor that the injury would not require surgery.
“As basic as your breaks can go,” Reds manager David Bell said. “It’s going to be weeks for sure, but maybe it’s three or four weeks and we’ll have him back."
Votto, 37, is slashing .226/.305/.425 with five home runs and 17 RBIs in 29 games this season. He is one of only four active players with at least 1,800 career Major League games, joining Albert Pujols, Miguel Cabrera and Yadier Molina.
The Reds don’t have a natural first baseman to replace Votto, but they do have several options. Utility players Alex Blandino and Farmer can both play the position. Third baseman Mike Moustakas has played first base in 14 games over his career, with 10 of those games (including eight starts) coming last season.
Moving Moustakas to first base would require second baseman Jonathan India or center fielder Nick Senzel to play third base. If India took third base, Senzel could play second.
Cincinnati opens a 10-game road trip on Friday in Cleveland.
“Maybe it’s good that we have the day off tomorrow, and we have several different ways we can go with it,” Bell said of the decision to replace Votto. “We’ll all sleep on it, and know no matter which way we go, it’ll be a good call and the right call. We’ve just got to figure it out. It’s all still a little fresh right now.”