Votto to miss 3-4 weeks with knee surgery
CINCINNATI — The biggest fear after the Cincinnati Reds banged the backsides of the St. Louis Cardinals with a whisk broom of a three-game sweep over the weekend was a letdown.
And there was a letdown — a 5-3 loss Monday to the Arizona Diamondbacks when starter Bronson Arroyo gave up five straight hits and four runs to start the game.
That, though, was the mole hill of a letdown. There was a mountain of a letdown, worse than anybody ever anticipated, a Mike Tyson-type belt to the solar plexus.
Joey Votto will be out for three to four weeks. On Tuesday morning, the All-Star first baseman underwent arthroscopic surgery on the meniscus in his left knee.
Arroyo took the loss of Votto harder than he took the loss of Monday's game. His loss was one game. Votto's loss is a lot of games.
Arroyo discovered the Votto news when he arrived at the park and Votto was leaving.
"He looked funny and I said, 'Aren't you playing today?' He said, 'Naw, I need surgery,' and I was like, man, that's terrible news for us.
"He is the cornerstone of our lineup and now it feels as if we're going to have to really press and keep pressure on the teams in this division to stay on top," Arroyo said.
"The good part of it is that if we can weather the storm over the next three or four weeks and still be in the thick of things when he comes back that'll give us a lift. For now, it is not a good prognosis for our team."
Arroyo hates days off and he had eight of them over the All-Star break. "So I was humping up to reach 84 and 85 miles an hour on my fastballs, which is unusual for me this year," he said. "It's no fun going to war with a BB-gun."
Votto first injured the knee sliding into third base on June 29 in San Francisco, but tried to play through it.
Because he said he felt OK and continued to play, limping when he ran, the team didn't perform an MRI on the $250 million first baseman.
Asked why it took so long for their prize product to undergo an MRI, general manager Walt Jocketty said, "Because he didn't request one until now and said it wasn't a problem until the last couple of days."
Votto played in the All-Star Game and in the three games against the Cardinals over the weekend. He was given the day off Monday against the Arizona Cardinals and an MRI late Monday afternoon revealed the tear.
It was decided near game time, 7:05 p.m., that Votto would undergo the surgery Tuesday morning from team medical director Dr. Tim Kremchek.
Votto is hitting .342 with 36 doubles, 14 home runs and 49 RBI, leading the National League in walks (66), intentional walks (13), on-base percentage (.465) and extra-base hits (50).
Jocketty said a roster replacement probably will come from within (Class AAA Louisville) before Tuesday's game against Arizona, "But we all know it will be difficult to replace Joey Votto."
Rookie third baseman/outfielder Todd Frazier played first base Monday night and probably will man the post the most during Votto's absence. "Frazier will give it the best shot," Jocketty said.
Jocketty said Votto's injury does not affect his search for a leadoff hitter or a cleanup hitter via trade, before the July 31 deadline. "We're still looking for the same things because Joey will be back, so we'll keep working on what we've done so far," he said.
Of the surgery, Jocketty said, "It's a simple procedure, 20 to 30 minutes, a simple scope and repair with a three-to-four-week recovery time. You never know, but it should be pretty routine."
Manager Dusty Baker called it belt-tightening time, "Because we have time to get him fixed up and back and the other guys need to pick it up. We have to tighten our belts and everybody knows they have a job to do."
Baker said Frazier would get plentiful time at first base, along with Miguel Cairo, who filled in for Votto for an extended period in 2010 when Votto was out of the lineup.
"Frazier has played first quite a bit, plays a good first base," said Baker. "There is a good possibility he'll play a lot there, he'll still play some third base and Miggie (Cairo) will play some first.
"Cairo is an outstanding first baseman and we need to get him swinging (.145)," Baker added. "He saved us a couple of years ago when Joey was out for an extended period of time. We'll mix and match with offensive and defensive matchups."