Joey Votto will undergo arthroscopic surgery on Tuesday to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee, and he is expected to miss three to four weeks, the Reds announced Monday.
Votto will be placed on the 15-day disabled list. The club will announce a corresponding roster move Tuesday.
"Joey Votto met with the medical staff this evening and has been diagnosed with a torn meniscus in his left knee," said Reds general manager Walt Jocketty. "He is going to have arthroscopic surgery tomorrow and should miss 3-4 weeks. Joey is very comfortable with the decision and is eager to return to the lineup."
Votto entered the day 9-for-32 (.281) since he returned on July 3 after missing a couple of games with a left knee injury, which he suffered on June 29. While he was 2-for-3 in Sunday's 4-2 Reds win over the Cardinals, he was a combined 0-for-8 in the first two games of the series. "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.
Votto, who played in the All-Star Game last week in Kansas City, came in batting .342 with 14 home runs and 49 RBIs and a league-best .465 on-base percentage. He has appeared in 86 of Cincinnati's previous 88 games and missed only three starts.
Rookie Todd Frazier started in Votto's place on Monday against the D-Backs. Frazier filled in well for Scott Rolen over extended periods this season already. On days that Frazier needs to replace Rolen, veteran Miguel Cairo can also play first base. To take Votto's roster spot, the Reds could summon veteran switch-hitter Dioner Navarro. Although not on the 40-man roster, Navarro entered the day batting .339 at Triple-A Louisville. Xavier Paul, who was signed to a Minor League deal over the weekend, began Monday batting .323 and hits left-handed.
But the hottest-hitting option at Louisville could be recent-arrival Henry Rodriguez, who is on the 40-man roster. Rodriguez, a 22-year-old who plays second base and third base and is a switch-hitter, is also batting .339 this season but has only nine games logged at the Triple-A level. But no matter how you slice it, none of these replacements can make up for the loss of Votto.
The 28-year-old, who won the 2010 National League Most Valuable Player Award, entered the day leading the Majors with 36 doubles and the NL with 66 walks. He was in the top 10 in almost every statistical category this season. He also was a team-best .371 hitter with runners in scoring position.
The Reds will now face their biggest test of the season over the next three to four weeks.