Prepare for that warm, fuzzy feeling.

With news breaking that Joey Votto will bat clean-up for the NL All-Star team, it seemed like the right time to pass along links to a boomlet of recent articles about the Reds first baseman.

First, John Fay wrote a long, wide-ranging article about Votto’s personal approach to baseball. The former MVP discusses, among other things, his decision to change his approach to hitting this season.

“First of all, I changed my mindset,” he said. “I went into the season last year thinking I was a home run hitter, trying to surpass what I did the previous year. That’s not really how it works. The best way to succeed in this game – and in life too – is to take what’s given to you. … I wasn’t capitalizing on the opportunities that were presented to me. I was stuck on hitting 30 homers. I was stuck on repeating as an MVP. I was stuck on a lot of individual-oriented things. I think that stepping back and doing what I can as a player is the best approach for me. If I don’t hit 30 home runs, if I don’t repeat as MVP, if I don’t receive some of the accolades I received in the past, that’s OK – as long as I’m getting at or near my potential as a player. It’s probably the biggest difference.”

There’s way more in this article. Fay covers Votto’s nutritional and workout discipline. Votto says his off-season after the MVP award was too busy and he didn’t have a chance to prepare the way he wanted to. Votto also speaks very candidly about dealing with depression and anxiety. You rarely see someone in the public eye so direct and open about a personal problem. Go read John Fay.

A recent article by Jorge Ortiz in USA Today covers much of the same ground, with more focus on the steps Votto is taking outside of baseball to provide more balance in his life.

Reds outfielder, Jay Bruce one of his best friends on the team, says the off-field diversions have helped as well.

“I think having enjoyments outside the game is healthy,” Bruce says. “It doesn’t take anything away from how much he loves baseball or wants to succeed. But I think he understands there needs to be a balance.”

It looks like Votto has found it.

Votto recounts some important advice he received about hitting from Prince Fielder.

 “Prince Fielder last year said to me at first base, ‘Home runs are thrown, not hit,'” Votto said. “I try to use those two approaches combined to basically take what’s given to me, make the best of what’s presented to me.”

Tomorrow night, when you relax on the couch or easy-chair to watch the All-Star Game, it’s OK to swell with pride as Joey Votto bats fourth for the National League. Take a second to reflect on what a tremendous role model the first baseman is both on the field and off, and then remind yourself that he’s not going anywhere soon, thanks to the ten-year contract the Reds agreed to this winter. Smile, knowing you’ve got the privilege of watching and cheering for the best player in the game, who also happens to be a good guy, too.