"We are going to assess here, by the end of this series, where he is," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "If there's a decision to be made in regards to a possible rejoining the club to play [or] possible DL ... right now we're not in any hurry to make that assessment. We don't need to with the roster at this point. Moving forward, we may have to."
With only four starting pitchers currently on the roster, there is no manpower pinch without Votto, since the bench still has five players and bullpen has seven pitchers. But that will change on Sunday, with Tony Cingrani set to be activated from the DL to start vs. the Phillies in the series finale.
Even if Votto avoids the DL, Price could not say whether or not he might re-join the club when the road trip moves on to Washington on Monday.
"I honestly don't know," Price said. "I really don't want to be coy with you guys on this thing. It's really hard to tell. We're still optimistic that he may not need to go on the DL. That being said, we'll probably have more clarity to that once we get through this weekend series and see how things evolve."
Votto, who was batting .182 over his last 16 games, remained in Cincinnati after some discomfort in his left knee prompted him to undergo the MRI exam. Since it was the same knee that required two arthroscopic surgeries in 2012, there was relief that the test showed a quad strain and not a knee injury.
"I'm optimistic that after that report, Joey can come back and not necessitate a DL," Price said. "[But] we want him back as Joey Votto, not as a shell or shadow of who he is. We want him to play confidently on that knee and that leg for the rest of the season and the rest of his career moving forward.
"If that means that it takes two weeks or three weeks to get it right, that's OK. We also don't want to put him on the DL if we honestly feel it might be a 4-7 day turnaround."
Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Mark My Word, and follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.