5:26pm: Votto has not tested positive; he self-reported symptoms, according to manager David Bell (via Charlie Goldsmith of the Cincinnati Enquirer). He is day-to-day.
3:37pm: The Reds announced they’ve placed Joey Votto on the COVID-19 injured list. Catcher Tyler Stephenson was reinstated from the IL to take his spot on the active roster. Cincinnati also recalled infielder Alejo López from Triple-A Louisville while optioning backstop Mark Kolozsvary.
The team didn’t specify whether Votto’s IL placement is reflective of a positive COVID test, virus-like symptoms, or exposure to someone who tested positive. Under the league’s 2022 health-and-safety protocols, players who test positive are subject to a 10-day absence from the club, though it’s possible to be reinstated in less time if the player has gone 24 or more hours without a fever, received a pair of negative PCR tests, and been given approval from a team physician and the MLB/MLBPA joint committee (a panel of one league-appointed and one union-appointed physician). If Votto is “merely” dealing with symptoms, he could return in shorter order. Players who test negative can return once their symptoms dissipate, so long as they’re cleared by the joint committee and the team doctor.
Stephenson returns after a two-week absence. The talented young catcher was injured in a collision with Padres first baseman Luke Voit at home plate during a game on April 19. Stephenson suffered a concussion, leaving the Reds to rely on an Aramis Garcia – Kolozsvary pairing behind the dish. It marked another blow to a Reds’ lineup that has been anemic through the season’s first month. Stephenson had been off to an impressive .267/.378/.467 start even as the club languished at or near the bottom of the league in most offensive categories.
Votto has been part of that miserable month, as he’d been off to a terrible start. Through 22 games, the six-time All-Star is hitting just .122/.278/.135 with a lofty 32.2% strikeout rate.