Votto likely to return in a few days

CINCINNATI -- Cincinnati Reds first baseman Joey Votto has an ear infection that should clear up in a few days with medication, doctors concluded on Thursday.

Votto had a series of tests in two cities after he got dizzy spells during a West Coast trip last week. Doctors think the infection in his left ear is linked to a case of the flu he had earlier in the month. Flights to Arizona and San Diego last week aggravated the ailment.

"That's probably what brought on the symptoms," trainer Mark Mann said. "In the last four days, Joey's felt much better. He hasn't had any more symptoms since he got back to Cincinnati."

The Reds have missed Votto, who is their leading hitter at .366. Cincinnati had lost four of five heading into Thursday's game against Philadelphia, with the offense struggling to get a clutch hit.

Votto and second baseman Brandon Phillips came down with the flu on May 7 and were sidelined for a couple of days. Votto was feeling better before he flew to Arizona for a series last week. He got dizzy there and again in San Diego over the weekend, forcing him out of the lineup.

He stayed in San Diego for tests when the team returned on Sunday night, and had another round of tests when he got back to Cincinnati.

Votto will work out before the start of a game Friday night against Cleveland. The Reds play their next two series at home, giving Votto time to get over the ear infection before he has to fly again. Votto could be back on the field over the weekend.

"It's going to depend on how he feels each day," Mann said.

The Reds were concerned that the dizziness was caused by something more serious. Manager Dusty Baker plans to give Votto time to take batting practice and work out before he puts him in the lineup.

"He told me last night that he was feeling pretty good," Baker said. "I still wanted to give him a couple of days to get his feet under him."