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Reds’ Joey Votto tests positive for COVID-19

This is an early setback as the 37-year-old first baseman looks to have a bounce-back season.

MLB: Los Angeles Angels at Cincinnati Reds Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Reds first baseman Joey Votto has tested positive for COVID-19, the team announced Wednesday:

Votto is the highest-profile major leaguer to test positive since players reported to spring training last month. It’s an unfortunate development for the six-time All-Star, who has seen his numbers steadily decline in many categories for three straight seasons now and is looking to regain his Hall of Fame-worthy form in 2021. While Votto’s slugging percentage and OPS increased from 2019 to ‘20 (.411 to .446 and .768 to .800), his batting average decreased for a fifth straight season (from .326 in 2016 to a career-worst .226 in 2020) and his OBP dropped for a fourth consecutive year (from a majors-leading .454 in 2017 to a career-worst .354 in 2020).

While the COVID recovery process is different for every individual, there’s still a decent chance that Votto will be back by Opening Day on April 1. He’ll be out a minimum of 10 days, though, due to MLB protocols. Second baseman Mike Moustakas appears to be the Reds’ fallback option at first base if Votto is still unavailable as the regular season begins.