The Reds made the move before Wednesday's game against the Washington Nationals. Votto had sat out five games because of a quadriceps strain in his left leg.
The move is retroactive to May 16.
The Reds had played a man short, expecting Votto would return quickly. Manager Bryan Price said Tuesday he was optimistic Votto would be back for a homestand that starts Friday.
Votto is hitting .257 with six home runs and 12 runs batted in. The Reds also reinstated outfielder Jay Bruce from the 15-day DL. He had arthroscopic surgery May 5 to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee.
Sale went on the disabled list April 22 because of a flexor strain in his left arm. He gave up one run and one hit in seven innings against Boston on April 17 in his previous start, throwing a career-high 127 pitches, and reported he was sore the next day.
Sale made a 68-pitch rehabilitation start, striking out 11 in four scoreless innings Friday with triple-A Charlotte (N.C.). He threw a bullpen session Tuesday at Kansas City before a game against the Royals with no problems. Sale, who has won 28 games the last two years, is 3-0 with a 2.30 earned-run average in four starts this season.
Rookie outfielder Joey Butler was optioned to Memphis.