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The mysterious ailments that kept Joey Votto(notes) in the dugout this week — feeling dizzy, easily losing focus — had us all fearing the worst.

Was it swine flu? Vertigo? Lyme disease? Something he caught from Dave Brown?

Luckily, all that speculation turned out to be way off base as it was reported today that Votto is simply suffering from an inner ear infection and that his current rise to star status in Cincinnati won't be derailed much longer.

From The Real McCoy:

"First, Votto had an upper respiratory infection that caused him to miss four games and it is believed that when the team flew to Phoenix from Cincinnati that brought on the inner ear infection and caused his dizziness and loss of focus. Then when he flew to San Diego from Phoenix it happened again.

"Votto has not had any of the symptoms since he returned from San Diego to Cincinnati and took indoor batting practice today. Manager Dusty Baker said he'll do all the pre-game activities with the team Friday and see where he is."

It's quite a relief to hear that news, though please notice that I put the word 'just' between single quotations marks in the headline because nobody should be taking this lightly or questioning Votto's toughness for missing time. 

Yep, back in my Pony League days, a good chunk of my season was wiped out after an inner ear infection knocked me completely into submission. It's probably the only athlete "injury" I'll ever be able to relate to — apart from the brown bottle flu, of course — but that ear infection was honestly the most disorienting and painful experience of my life. If you've had the misfortune of also having one, I suspect you sympathize with Votto as well.

The good news for Votto is that when I did return to my Pony team — which was strangely named the Reds — I came back and won the game by slicing three-run double down the right field line.* Hopefully Votto can come back and do the same. 

*Yeah, I was rather late on the pitch, but who's keeping track? All the runs counted the same and we all went to Village Pizza to celebrate anyway. (Mmmm, Village Pizza.)   

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