The Cincinnati Reds have sent first baseman Joey Votto on a rehab assignment to Triple-A Louisville where he’ll spend some time with the Bats. Votto last played in a game on May 1st. He was then placed on the COVID injury list and has missed nearly the last two weeks.
While Joey Votto has been in a slump the entire season, he was really in one right before he went on the injured list. From April 23rd through May 1st he had one hit in 26 at-bats. He did walk seven times in that span, and was hit by a pitch, giving him a .265 on-base percentage in that time frame, but it was a brutal stretch that followed an already poor start to the season in the first two weeks. Through 22 games this year, Votto is hitting .122/.278/.135 with just one extra-base hit – a double – and he’s struck out 29 times in just 90 plate appearances.
C. Trent Rosecrans of The Athletic spoke with Votto towards the end of April about how he had gone back to his old bat, dropping the new bat he had been using since the start of spring training that had a “hockey puck” on the bottom instead of a normal knob. Votto noted that, “It didn’t feel whippy, snappy. It felt like at moments it just took longer to deliver the barrel to the spot I wanted to get to. It’s hard to describe.”
There wasn’t much time between the switching back to the old bat and his arriving on the injured list. Perhaps some of his struggles were related to the bat. Of course, he used that same bat in spring training and hit the ball quite well. Spring training isn’t the regular season and you don’t face the same pitchers, and even when you do, you aren’t usually seeing the same exact stuff. Still, until he gets out there and starts hitting again, we won’t really know.
Getting back to the new bat and facing Triple-A pitching after having nearly two weeks off, Joey Votto should be able to work on some things and get in tune with the “new, old” bat. That may just be a part of it, though. Votto, always known to be tweaking and changing things when they aren’t going the way he wants, may need to do some of that, too. His strikeout rate is way up this season, and his power is entirely non-existent. Finding a way to get the bat on the ball more, and to strike it with more authority will be paramount for the Reds first baseman.