Votto has been on the DL since May 30 for "stress-related issues." He missed 12 starts and departed two games early due to bouts with the flu and dizziness resulting from an inner-ear infection.
The Reds play the finale of a three-game series against the Chicago Cubs on Sunday at Great American Ball Park.
Votto was on the field in street clothes during batting practice Friday night. It was his first appearance with the team since being disabled.
Although he declined to speak to reporters, Votto did speak briefly with Baker, who said he was encouraged by the conversation.
"He sounded better," Baker said Friday.
Nobody in the Reds' organization -- aside from Votto himself -- seems to have a handle on the condition of the club's top hitter.
"He's dealing with a personal issue," Baker told MLB.com. "He wants us to respect his privacy about that."
Entering Sunday's game, the Reds were 3-5 without Votto, who's batting .357 with eight home runs and 33 RBIs. As Baker indicated Saturday, the club should be prepared for Votto's extended absence.
"He hasn't hit in a while," Baker said. "He's a natural, but he's not that natural. There's no indication on when he'll be doing any baseball activity. I wish I had more to tell you, but I don't."
CIN: RHP Bronson Arroyo (7-4, 5.37 ERA)
Arroyo was charged with five earned runs and seven hits over 5 1/3 innings with two walks and five strikeouts during a 5-2 loss to the Cardinals on Tuesday. He threw 111 pitches in the game and paid for a couple of at-bats. In the third inning, he used up 14 pitches in one at-bat to strike out Skip Schumaker. In the decisive two-run sixth, he hit Yadier Molina in the back with a two-strike fastball, which opened the door for St. Louis.
CHC: RHP Randy Wells (0-2, 1.69 ERA)
Wells is still looking for his first Major League victory despite five worthy starts. He had a no-hitter at Atlanta on Tuesday until Chipper Jones singled sharply to the opposite field with two out in the seventh inning. The rookie right-hander gave up a home run to Garret Anderson leading off the eighth inning and was pulled one batter later after just 83 pitches. His first victory vanished when the Cubs' bullpen couldn't hold the lead, with the Braves tying the game on a two-run homer with two out in the ninth by Jeff Francoeur. Wells struck out four against the Braves. He didn't walk anyone, but he did hit a batter.
According to Baker, third baseman Edwin Encarnacion experienced some soreness one day after his Friday workout. News of a possible rehab assignment was put on hold pending further evaluation. "I know how hard he's been working to get back in there," Baker said. ... Center fielder Willy Taveras' sore right hamstring is improving, but Baker still is reluctant to insert him into the lineup. "I don't know if he's ready to steal a base," Baker said. ... The Reds, Society of St. Vincent de Paul and NEWS 5 are sponsoring a food drive during this weekend's series against the Cubs. Fans donating a non-perishable food item in designated food-collection barrels will receive two tickets to the June 17 game vs. the Brewers and can enter a drawing to throw out the ceremonial first pitch prior to that game.
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Official game notes
Tuesday: Reds (Johnny Cueto, 5-3, 2.43) at Nationals (Jordan Zimmermann, 2-3, 5.71), 7:05 p.m. ET
Wednesday: Reds (Aaron Harang, 5-6, 4.11) at Nationals (TBD), 7:05 p.m. ET