Injury updates: Votto, Howard, and Sizemore

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* After three weeks on the disabled list with what MLB.com calls “an undisclosed stress-related issue” Joey Votto is back with the Reds
and in the starting lineup for tonight’s game against the Blue Jays.
Votto was hitting .357/.464/.627 with eight homers, 10 doubles, and 23
walks in 151 plate appearances before landing on the shelf and the Reds
went 8-13 without him.

* According to the Philadelphia Daily News, Ryan Howard is expected to play tonight
after his MLB-best streak of 343 straight games was snapped Sunday
because of acute sinusitis. Howard was hospitalized over the weekend
with a 104-degree fever, but still managed to smack a three-run homer
off the bench Saturday.

* Grady Sizemore is back
after being on the DL since last month with left elbow inflammation,
but has said that season-ending surgery may still be needed if he
suffers another setback. Sizemore was hitting just .233/.309/.417 in 49
games before taking the time off and will be playing through pain, so
it’ll be interesting to see if he can get back on track while in the
lineup every day.

Blue Jays, Josh Donaldson to table extension talks

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Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith reports that the Blue Jays and third baseman Josh Donaldson are tabling extension talks as the two sides weren’t able to build any momentum towards agreement on a new contract.

Donaldson said, “We’re not quite there. That, to me, right now is not the major focus and I’m turning the page.” He added, “I want to play this season and really focus on winning games because, ultimately, our goal is to win a World Series and I don’t want to hinder that at all.” Donaldson also said he expects to hit free agency.

The 32-year-old avoided arbitration with the Blue Jays last month, agreeing on a $23 million salary for the 2018 season. He’s a free agent at season’s end. Last year, the three-time All-Star hit .270/.385/.559 with 33 home runs, 78 RBI, and 65 runs scored in 496 plate appearances. Donaldson missed six weeks in the first half with a calf injury, but was able to return and post terrific numbers, so his health — at least that aspect of it — shouldn’t be a concern going into spring training.

If Donaldson does reach free agency, he’ll join a star-studded group that will likely also include Bryce Harper, Manny Machado, Charlie Blackmon, and A.J. Pollock.