CINCINNATI -- It was albeit a small step, but injured Reds first baseman Joey Votto's rehab from knee surgery went to the next level on Monday, when he began doing some baseball activity.
It wasn't much. Votto played catch and took some throws at first base. He had arthroscopic surgery July 17 to repair torn meniscus in his left knee. The 28-year-old cornerstone player has been doing rehab and running, but is not moving around at 100 percent yet.
"I feel like I'm making subtle improvements every day," Votto said. "If it was pain-free, I would be playing right now."
When exactly Votto might return remains murky as he and the Reds have not laid down an exact timetable. The club estimated after the operation that it would take three to four weeks to return. Votto is eligible for activation from the 15-day disabled list as soon as Tuesday. That clearly won't happen.
"I've done nothing but try to get back as soon as possible," Votto said. "It can be difficult sitting on the sidelines and watching the team play well or play poorly. Obviously, I think they'd like me to stay out another 10 games so they can have a 20-game win streak. It's difficult watching the games and not being able to play. I miss playing so I do everything I can to put myself in a position where I can play as soon as possible. Some things you just have to let go. This is one of those instances. I have to let my body do all the healing it can."
The 2010 National League MVP and the team's best hitter who is signed for the next 12 seasons, Votto is batting .342 with 14 home runs and 49 RBIs, and his 36 doubles, 66 walks and .465 on-base percentage were league bests entering Monday.
Ironically, the Reds have played their best baseball of the season while Votto has been out. They entered the night with a 10-game winning streak and are 11-2 since he went down.
Votto did not view it as though his teammates stepped up in his absence.
"They're playing to their capabilities," Votto said. "If they have a mindset that they need to fill in something while I'm gone, then it's a false approach, because this is a good enough team to win the division without me. Clearly they showed it with 10 straight wins. Obviously it's a small sample size. I think we've got an excellent team, regardless. We have very good defensive team. The pitching really seems as though they've grown. It's almost like the fans and us as teammates have watched a lot of the younger pitchers grow and improve over the course of the season."