MILWAUKEE -- The reason was more surprising and mysterious than expected but one thing was certain on Saturday: The Reds will be without the services of best hitter Joey Votto for at least two weeks, maybe more. Votto was placed on the 15-day disabled list because of what was termed by the club as "stress-related issues." No more details were revealed, at Votto's request. "He's dealing with a personal issue," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "He wants us to respect his privacy about that."
Catcher/infielder/outfielder Wilkin Castillo was recalled from Triple-A Louisville to take Votto's roster spot. Votto, who was believed to have returned to Cincinnati, has been bothered by dizziness brought on by an inner ear infection for over two weeks. Between that and the flu, the 25-year-old missed 12 starts in 17 games from May 7-25. He came out of Friday's game vs. the Brewers before the bottom of the second inning after experiencing dizziness. He also exited a May 12 game in Arizona and a May 16 game at San Diego with the same issue. On May 21, after a battery of tests, the inner ear infection was revealed, but it apparently has less to do with Votto's current departure from the team than what was originally speculated. "It's partly that. Let's leave it at that," Reds general manager Walt Jocketty said. The Reds held a closed-door clubhouse meeting with the players on Saturday afternoon. "They weren't informed about what was wrong," Baker said. "I just told them we have to stick together, even more than ever. Whatever it is, we need to support him. This is like a member of your family. Right now, he needs their support and love and understanding something they might not even understand." This isn't the first time a personal issue has forced Votto to leave. The sudden death of his father in August prompted the club to put him on the bereavement list for six days. "It's basically something that Joey needs some time away to deal with," Jocketty said. "We gave him that time. It's not a big deal, but it's something that was affecting his ability to play at the level he wants to play at." It wasn't clear if Votto would be ready to return when he's eligible for activation on June 14. "At this point, we don't know," Baker said. "We're hoping." The Reds' best hitter this season, Votto is batting .357 with eight home runs and 33 RBIs in 38 games. He came into Saturday second in the National League in hitting and leading the league with a .464 on-base percentage. "I've known Joey a long time," Reds catcher Ryan Hanigan said. "Stuff like this can happen to anybody. Now that it's getting addressed, he can get some peace with the things going on. I don't really want to talk about it, but I want him to know we've got his back. He knows that. He'll get it right and come back as soon as he can." Castillo was batting .196 at Louisville and this is his second callup in less than a week. He was up on Sunday and Monday but did not play. Players sent down usually have to wait 10 days to be recalled except in the case of an injury. The Reds didn't have many other options at Louisville among players on the 40-man roster besides Castillo, who will provide catching depth. Regular catcher Ramon Hernandez has played first base most of the time since Votto's dizziness kept him from playing. Infielder Adam Rosales will also get time at first base and outfielder Jonny Gomes was taking ground balls there during batting practice on Saturday. Gomes played first base during Spring Training but not during his stint at Louisville. Jocketty didn't rule out making another move to get more offense. "Part of the reason we brought Castillo back is he's so versatile," Jocketty said. "We'll probably use our catchers a lot with Hernandez playing first base. We just needed some protection. We'll evaluate it and see if we have to do anything else. I think we'll just continue to play with what we have." The Reds entered Saturday with a 26-21 record and were 1 1/2 games out of first place in the NL Central race. They've managed to play well throughout May while Votto and second baseman Brandon Phillips have been out for extended periods. As Votto exited, Phillips was back in the lineup for the first time in a week since he suffered a fractured right thumb. "One day, we'll be whole," Baker said. "These guys have been very resilient. We just have to be more resilient."
Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.