Reds first baseman Joey Votto was placed on the injured list on Wednesday after he tested positive for COVID-19. Votto gave permission to the club to reveal his condition.
This will certainly have ramifications on the roster if Votto needs to be away for an extended period. Votto will be out a minimum of 10 days, per MLB protocols.
Reds manager David Bell has spoken to Votto since the test results became known.
“He’s handling it as well as possible, no surprise there,” Bell said following Wednesday's 9-3 loss to the Royals. “We’re just hoping -- not only for his health, but from a baseball standpoint -- he can get back here as quick as he can because we’ve felt really good about where he was.”
There were no other known reports of positive tests from the Reds' complex. Players, coaches and staff wear proximity detectors to assist with contact tracing.
COVID-19 testing is performed every other day in most situations.
“We did two days in a row after the off-day [Saturday],” Bell said. “I don’t know that we’re totally out of the woods, but I do trust that we’re in as good of shape as possible. Right now, my thoughts are just with Joey and getting him back here as quick as we can.”
Votto missed both games of a doubleheader on Aug. 2 last season at Detroit while in COVID-19 protocols when he reported not feeling well.
Wednesday's news halted an uncharacteristically strong start in Spring Training for Votto, who is notorious for often being slow out of the gate. The sample size is small -- just four games -- but he is 4-for-9 with a double and a walk.
Votto, 37, last played on Sunday against the Giants, when he collected two hits that included a double to the wall in right-center field.
The 2010 National League MVP Award winner and a six-time All-Star, Votto is looking for a rebound year in 2021. He slashed .252/.356/.421 over the past two seasons, good for a league-average 100 OPS+ -- compared with his career mark of 149. Votto did show increased power late last season, pounding eight home runs in his final 28 games while slugging .548.
Bell has a few options to replace Votto at first base. The most likely choice would be to have second baseman Mike Moustakas move over to first base.
Moustakas has played first base in 14 games over his career, but 10 of those games and eight starts happened last season.
Outfielder Scott Heineman, who is trying to earn a spot on the 26-man roster, has first-base experience with the Rangers and has played the position during camp. Heineman was given the start at first base vs. the Royals on Wednesday.
Other players who can man first base include utility player Alex Blandino, shortstop Kyle Farmer and non-roster invitees Cheslor Cuthbert and Nicky Delmonico.
“We have several players in camp that need to play anyway,” Bell said. “We’ll just make the most of the time to see everyone else.”