Cincinnati Reds put Joey Votto on disabled list again

Is he finished for season? Who's on first now?

CINCINNATI - Is Joey Votto finished for year? Who's on first now?

The Reds face two big questions after putting their first baseman back on the 15-day disabled list Tuesday with a nagging thigh injury that is expected to limit him for the rest of the season.

Reds manager Bryan Price said Votto's strained muscle above his left knee would not be fully healed until the offseason.  

"Our plan of attack will be to do everything we can to get him back to play over the course of the year,"  Price said Tuesday. "We 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."

The Reds are expected to use a committee of players - including catcher Brayan Pena, third baseman Todd Frazier and right fielder Jay Bruce -  to fill in for Votto at first. But none of them has much experience at the position.

A trade for a backup first baseman is a possibility.

"I think we'll see how things unfold here in the next couple of weeks," Price said. "It's a talking point, but right now that's all it is."

Frazier played first in Tuesday afternoon's game against the Cubs at Great American Ball Park, and Bruce was penciled in for the nightcap.

Pena, who has subbed for Votto most of the time this season, returned from paternity leave Tuesday.

With Pena unavailable Monday, the Reds moved Bruce to first base, where he had not played since high school. Bruce made an error when a grounder scooted under him.

"I don't want to create a black hole over there," Price said. "I don't think we will. I wouldn't put someone over there if I didn't feel they were capable of holding down the position. That being said, we don't have a lot of players with any real history as true first basemen."

Jack Hannahan would be an option when he returns. The Reds announced Tuesday that the utility infielder is starting a rehab assignment at Dayton. Hannahan, who can play first, has not played this year following shoulder surgery last October.

Votto is eligible to come off the DL on July 21, but that's unlikely.

Votto already missed 23 games with his thigh injury this season. He was batting only .250 in 23 games since his return and hadn't homered since May 10.

It seemed obvious that Votto would go on the DL after he flailed at pitches and struck out three times in Saturday's 1-0 loss to Milwaukee.

Even with his hitting problems, the Reds had been a much better team with Votto than without him.

The Reds went 11-12 while Votto was on the DL from May 16 to June 9.

They went 17-9 after he returned.

The return of Mat Latos, Devin Mesoraco and Aroldis Chapman also contributed to their recent success.

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