Hard-hitting Cincinnati Reds first baseman Joey Votto was dealt his own blow Monday when he found out he would need to miss three to four weeks to address a torn meniscus in his left knee. Votto originally injured his knee on June 29 while sliding into third base, but he remained in that game. (The flexed and rotated position of his knee underneath his body as his foot contacts the bag is a vulnerable position for the meniscus, which is often injured via a twisting mechanism.) Reds team physician Dr. Timothy Kremchek appeared on ESPN's Baseball Tonight on Monday and said, Votto "didn't feel right" the day after the injury. Votto took the first two days of July off to rest the knee and then returned to play, trying to push through the injury gamely despite lingering discomfort.
The effects made themselves increasingly apparent however, as Votto struggled at the plate (14 HRs and 27 RBIs before the injury, 0 HR and 2 RBIs since) and appeared slow at times in transitional movements, like trying to get back to first base quickly after leading off. After aggravating the knee again via a twisting maneuver in recent days, Votto felt the need to address the problem now.
"It is in my best interest and in the best interest of the team to do it now, so that I can be healthy during the last two months of the pennant race," Votto said in a statement. As Kremchek noted, "It got to the point where he couldn't perform the way he felt he needed to to help the team. He decided it was the right thing to do to fix this now and get him ready for August, September and a playoff run."
So can he really return within the projected three to four weeks? Kremchek, who will be performing Votto's surgery Tuesday, said the time frame is definitely "reasonable," adding that Votto is in "tremendous shape," which can only help in his recovery. The rehab is straightforward focusing on resolution of swelling and restoring normal motion, walking without a limp and progressively increasing strengthening. The critical element is restoring adequate muscle strength before returning to play so that the knee is not at risk for other injury, not to mention being able to deliver the proper power while swinging the bat. If all goes without a hitch, expect Votto to rejoin the team within a month.