The Reds announced today that first baseman Joey Votto was placed on the injured list, and while no initial reason was listed, Votto gave clearance to reveal that he’s tested positive for Covid-19 (Twitter link via The Athletic’s C. Trent Rosecrans). He’ll be away from the club for a minimum of 10 days under the 2021 health-and-safety protocols. It’s not clear whether Votto is experiencing symptoms, though the obvious hope will be for a swift recovery and return to the team.
The Reds are slated to host the Cardinals come April 1 on Opening Day. There’s no experienced backup option at first base on their 40-man roster should Votto not be back with the club by that point, although Mike Moustakas did play 10 games at the position last year and has logged a total of 14 Major League contests there. Outfielder Scott Heineman, who is on the 40-man roster but not assured of an Opening Day spot, has totaled 124 innings at first base between the minors and the big leagues.
In an ideal setting, Votto himself will be return in time to handle the task, though that’s not a given. Per the league’s guidelines, Votto will need to be cleared for return by a joint MLB/MLBPA committee and the Reds’ team physician, and Votto also will need to pass a mandatory cardiac evaluation and a determination that he no longer poses the risk of infecting others.
Votto will not count against the Reds’ 40-man roster while he is on the Covid-19-related injured list.