Interest in Votto's status remains intense

The question on everyone's mind continues to be what is next for the Reds' struggling slugger.

The Cincinnati Reds' Joey Votto was not in the lineup Sunday. 

Tom Uhlman / Associated Press

CINCINNATI -- It didn't take Sherlock Holmes with a magnifying glass saying, "Elementary, my dear Watson," to know that something was up Sunday morning in the Cincinnati Reds clubhouse.

Some of the clues indicated that perhaps Joey Votto was going on the disabled list, but that was not the case. Votto was given Sunday off but he was not placed on the disabled list.

The clues that something was afoot?

--Votto occupies two lockers, as most superstars do on all teams. On the right was his baseball stuff. On the left was, uh, nothing. Empty. Was he cleaned out?

No, Votto uses the left side for his civilian clothes and at the time he had not arrived in the clubhouse.

--Catcher Tucker Barnhart's jersey was hanging on a locker, indicating that he was recalled from Triple-A Louisville. And he showed up later.

Did that mean Barnhart was called up to back up catcher Devin Mesoraco while catcher Brayan Pena played first base in Votto's place?

Well, Barnhart will back up Mesoraco, but Pena isn't playing first base. Pena's wife, expecting a baby, went into labor Saturday and he left to be with her in Kissimmee, Fla.

--There was no Reds lineup posted on the two boards in the clubhouse. Milwaukee's was there, but not the Reds. Did this have anything to do with Votto going on the DL?

It has everything to do with Votto and Pena, but nothing concerning the DL. Manager Bryan Price was working hard in his office to come up with a lineup and a batting order -- Todd Frazier at first base and Ramon Santiago at third base.

--The biggie was that Price's daily media briefing, scheduled for 10:30, was delayed because owner Bob Castellini mae a rare pre-game appearance in Price's office. Were they discussing Joey Votto? Most likely they were. And other things.

The disabled list for Votto was a heavy topic on talk radio Saturday night and Sunday morning after he struck out three times in a 1-0 loss to the Brewers Saturday afternoon. His left leg, on which he has his problem knee, buckles when he swings and Votto often winces in pain when he swings. His batting average is .255 with six home runs and 23 RBI, not typical Votto production.

When the media traipsed into Price's office, about 20 minutes late, they were told Votto was getting a day off -- Price's idea. When the media left the clubhouse at 11:15 Votto, dressed in civilian clothes, was sitting in Price's office in front of his desk.

"Just a day off for Joey," said Price. "We're trying to be conscientious, knowing he is playing well below 100 percent. We're trying to keep him as healthy as we can, under the circumstances, which is challenging.

"He definitjely has some challenges physically so I thought it was a good idea to give him a day off," Price added.

"Brayan Pena's wife had a baby, we knew that was happening, but we didn't know when," said Price. "I got a couple of text messages this morning that she had gone into labor, so he made his way to Florida to be with his family. So we'll have Tucker Barnhart here until he returns."

Of Votto's condition, Price added, "We knew the process when we initially put Joey on the disabled list (May 21) that when we got him back (June 9) that we were not going to be able to get him to 100 percent over the course of the season.

"We decided to do some strengthening and exercises, really work on getting the inflammation and soreness out of the knee and we accomplished that to a certain degree," said Price. "But we knew we wouldn't get him back to 100 percent. Some days are better than others."

It was obvious that Saturday was a bad day.

"This was my decision not to play him (Sunday), although I stay in contact with Joey on how he is feeling. He didn't ask to come out. I just thought it was a good day for a breather and we'll re-assess and hope he is ready for tomorrow."

After that was said, a writer pointed out that, "His locker is clear, half the locker is completely cleared."

Reds public relations director Rob Butcher pointed out quickly that, "His locker is like that every day. He has like three shirts and a pair of shorts."

Said Price with a laugh, "Joey is a minimalist. So strike the question."

So all the media packed up their magnifying glasses and curved smoking pipes and left the clubhouse to await the next Votto trauma and update.