Cincinnati Reds first baseman Joey Votto joined Mark Sheldon and Tommy Thrall on the Reds Hot Stove League on Wednesday evening and he had a lot of interesting things to say. He addressed his shoulder rehab after having surgery on it late last season and where he’s at with it, the signing of Wil Myers, and more. You can listen to the entire show below.

But one of the more blunt things that he said was when asked about any adjustments he made need to make because of the surgery, he said this:

“Truly, I didn’t play well enough last year to even justify a starting job. So the idea of making any sort of technical changes, I don’t think that’s sustainable because I wouldn’t be able to play well enough.”

In 2022 Votto hit just .205/.319/.370 before going on the injured list in mid-August so he could undergo shoulder surgery. At the time he noted that he had been playing through the pain, but that at the point in which he went to the injured list that it was at a point where it was difficult for him to lift his arm.

Listen here (Joey Votto is on during the first 22 minutes)

The first baseman, who is entering perhaps the final year of his contract (the team holds a $20,000,000 option for 2024 that has a $7,000,000 buyout), said that he’s looking forward to playing again.

“I’m just going to keep plugging away at it,” Votto said. “I’m looking forward to playing, I miss playing. I miss playing well. I think that with two healthy arms I’m going to be able to play well again. I don’t have very much doubt about that.”

When that return happens, though, isn’t quite certain. Mark Sheldon asked Votto if he thought he would be 100% by the start of spring training.

“I say I’m not willing to make that prediction just because I don’t know. I just don’t know. I’ve never experienced anything like this and I try to manage my expectations, of course. I’m hopeful – I’m always hopeful, of course. Yeah, that’s where my head’s at.”

Following the procedure, Votto noted that he was told that recovery time was about six months. He had surgery in late August. Six months from that point in time would be late February, or right around the start of spring training.

53 Responses

  1. Melvin

    If I were a betting man I’d say Votto will be ready for opening day and have a really good year.

    • CFD3000

      I’m pretty confident about the good year. Not as sure about opening day, but I just hope he waits until he’s truly at full strength to start the season. Then he can rake from there.

  2. David

    Joey Votto is a pretty conscientious guy, about baseball, working to prepare and his view of his own career.
    This was a pretty serious surgery, and he may be further along than expected, or ….maybe not.
    I wish him well, but we shouldn’t get disappointed if Joey really struggles in Spring Training hitting. He may never come back and be able to play….or he will have a good year. I have no idea, but again…this was a pretty serious operation on his shoulder.

  3. Redsvol

    love me some Joey Votto news. Joey will be back and better than last year. I’m predicting May 1st – about 8 months from surgery. Lots of strength building needs to occur after a surgery like he had for a top professional athlete.

  4. Rednat

    i got to think Joey maybe thinking of playing beyond 2023 if he is going through all this rehab at this age.
    why not keep him around a couple of more years? I am predicting some really bad upcoming years for the reds so this would at least give me a reason to show up to the ballpark. maybe he pulls a Pete Rose and plays till he is 44.

  5. Jim Walker

    Votto said he had been told he was doing very well in his rebab but that there was a difference between doing well and being MLB game ready.

    He said he had just started trying to hit off a pitching machine and but it “wasn’t quite there”.

    He has done very little defensive work because the arm isn’t there for it either yet.

    The bottom line is he is “hopeful” he will be ready for spring training but was not willing to predict that he would be because he just didn’t know.

    • Tom Reeves

      I think it’s smart for him to focus solely on hitting. He can DH if hitting recovers. His defense has always been “practice” dependent. When he can get the practice, he’s been a solid defender. When injuries have impacted his ability to practice, his defense can become quite poor.

      I hope we get to see one last “hot streak” from Votto before the end of his career.

      • DW

        Agreed Tom. Personally, I would prefer to see Votto DH and CES, Steer, and Meyers split time at 1B. Maybe even McGarry at the end of the season.

  6. AMDG

    From 2007 thru 2018 Votto had a weighted:
    155 OPS+ & 5.5 WAR per season.

    For 2019 thru 2021 Votto had a weighted:
    114 OPS+ & 1.9 WAR per season

    Last year Votto had a weighted:
    87 OPS+ & -0.6 WAR

    He is trending downward, and he is correct that he did not play well last year (as the negative WAR indicates).

    Despite the declining production, plummeting OBP, and rising K%, Votto is still going to be the Reds starter and is still going to hit in the heart of the lineup. Not because of the player he is today, but because of the player he was half a dozen years ago.

    • AllTheHype

      That last paragraph is sad, but true. Krall getting rid of Moustakas before he could be penciled into the middle to the lineup was his way of Bell-proofing the lineup, to the extent possible. But Krall won’t be able to Bell-proof the lineup of Votto. We all better hope Votto is worthy of hitting 4th, because he will be there the whole season regardless of performance.

    • Kevin H

      War is just a silly stat that has ruined the game. Joey Votto when healthy is a great baseball player. He had 1 bad year and that was last year.

      My gosh the dude is a hall of fame who has had a great career. Analytics has ruined the game.

      • Doug Gray

        Analytics have been in the game since the beginning. What do you think batting average is? ERA? Those are analytics.

      • AMDG

        Actually, Votto has had 3 bad years (2019, 2020, 2022). But you are correct that Votto HAD (past tense) a great career.

        He is for sure a Reds’ Hall of Fame candidate (granted that bar is exceptionally low). But is a borderline Cooperstown HOF candidate.

        His raw #’s of RBI’s, HR’s, etc. are outside of the top 100 and top 200 all time, and he has no playoff championships. So, the old-school measurements for the HOF would keep him out.

        But if he makes it into Cooperstown it will be precisely due to analytics. His OBP, OPS, and OPS+ are all top-50 all time.

  7. LDS

    It is easy for him to say he didn’t deserve to start because he knows that as long as Bell is there, he will. But he may be hinting here that we shouldn’t expect as much from him this year as in years past. The reality is that, unless something changes soon, he should announce this is his final season and enjoy the limelight that comes with the passing of a great career.

    • CFD3000

      The key here is “unless something changes”. And something IS changing. It’s impossible to separate Votto’s struggles (or success) from his health. And we understand that his shoulder issues are not new. So the recent surgery and subsequent rehab is a potentially major change. We know Votto is a very hard worker, and will not skimp on this rehab. And in 2021 despite a bad and worsening injury he was a very good hitter. I think it’s seriously premature to send him off into the sunset without seeing whether his health issues are resolved or not. If not, fine – he’s probably done already. But if so he may not be close to done. But I for one am really interested in finding out before we write off Joey Votto. There’s certainly more at issue here than just his age. I say let’s find out before we give up on him.

      • LDS

        My guess is that his current thinking is that next year is his farewell tour. I think that’s wishful thinking. Even if he does want to return, I can’t see the Reds paying him to do so. Thus, he should bow out with dignity and let 2023 be his farewell tour instead of being unceremoniously kicked to the curb in 2024. Because the Reds are ruthless on salary.

  8. Harry Stoner

    “It is easy for him to say he didn’t deserve to start because he knows that as long as Bell is there, he will. ”

    This is one of the more cynical statements that have been posted here.

    Votto isn’t retired yet, so doesn’t have the benefit of being a judgemental crank of others motives and ambitions.

    If baseball teams were run as if they were some idealistic, fantastical ‘business management’ meeting then all would be well, right?

    Except that the memories of the ‘efficiency’ of business management meetings are the idealized fantasies of the retired.

    I imagine Votto will be far less cynical when the day comes for him to retire and offer his opinions about what others are thinking and doing.

    • LDS

      Facts are facts. Bell is a lousy manager. Votto started and batted 4th almost every game. Even when the younger guys were being rested, Votto started. Votto stated once that when he can no longer perform at an MLB level, he’d hang it up. That day has come and gone. Even in his 2021 season, he didn’t hit left handers. Votto was one of the Reds greats, but that time has passed. It’s not cynical. It’s recognizing reality. It would be nice to see the 2017 Votto again, but that’s not happening. We are in the annual Reds optimism phase where everything is magically going to turnaround. That’s called wishful thinking. I wish Morgan, Bench, Rose, and the rest of the BRM were on the field this season, but that’s not happening either.

      • wkuchad

        I think you’re confused on the difference between facts and opinions.

      • Melvin

        ” I wish Morgan, Bench, Rose, and the rest of the BRM were on the field this season, but that’s not happening either”.

        You mean they’re not coming back? hahaha I just watched the 1976 All Star Game on Youtube and they practically were all there except for Geronimo, who by the way was hitting .300+ that year as well while receiving the third of his four Gold Gloves in a row. It’s being able to watch the rich Reds history that keeps me a Reds fan these days I guess.

        I respect your opinions but disagree with you about Votto. Maybe that’s just the fan in me. Time will tell.

      • LDS

        I think not, @wkuchad. Look at the numbers – simple as that. Too many baseball fans, here and elsewhere, scream about “analytics” until the numbers go against them. Winning matters. The Reds aren’t going to win much. They are currently 9830-9831 since 1890 , which doesn’t include the 5 years in the 50’s when they played as the Redlegs and went 396-374. So, net 21 games over .500 in 130+ years. Unless the Reds win 71 games this year, they will have a losing record for their history – all thanks to Castellini’s cheapness and lousy managers like Bell and Price. Yes, they’ve had other lousy streaks, but the current one is pathetic. So again, it’s numbers not opinions.

      • greenmtred

        I’ve noticed the same thing, wkuchad, but he seems to be enjoying himself.

      • greenmtred

        It’s not so easy to hit MLB righthanders, LDS. Votto had a good season in 2021 despite the handedness splits. Few players hit both RH and LH pitchers well.

      • LDS

        He did. But the fact that he wasn’t hitting LH’ers was a good reason to bench/rest him. LH’ers aren’t an everyday thing. Bell is just unwilling or unable to do a professional job. Mediocrity reigns in Reds land.

  9. Rob

    I’ve not seen this reported in the media, but were the Reds aware of Votto’s bad shoulder last season? If they were aware, how in the world did David Bell continue to bat Votto — a .205 hitter with weakened power — in the cleanup spot game after game, week after week? Incredible — no, very believable of the Reds’ organization in a hundred-loss season.

    • DataDumpster

      Bingo. If they didn’t know or couldn’t recognize that Votto’s swing was off kilter, etc. that is an amazing example of ineptitude. (Or, as others would say, Bell was told to play him regardless (for reasons that aren’t entirely clear)).

      • greenmtred

        One clear reason may have been that Bell had no other, better, first-basemen.

      • DataDumpster

        Possibly or likely so but if we take Joey’s comments seriously about the pain, the actual injury and so on, that player shouldn’t in any circumstance be out there on a daily basis. Just saying it is hard to believe the coaches didn’t spot this or have medical evaluations taken until you get to the point where you can’t lift your arm.

  10. old-school

    Things are going to playout. I hope for Votto’s sake he gets healthy and has a strong final year but age and shoulder injuries are significant things to overcome. Krall said the team will look much different at the end of 2023 than 2022 and things are shaping up that way. Kudos to moving on from Moose again. Still cant believe that actually happened and I will certainly give Votto 3 months and 300 AB’s to see if he can find that swing again. If nothing else, its a chance for Reds fans to appreciate Votto one last time and show him that. Ill be the first one clamoring for CES or another young gun who has earned the opportunity with a strong first half AAA showing to start transitioning in at first base.

    Hopefully, some of the prospects at AA/AAA burst through so that by the AS game there’s more enthusiasm as fresh faces are peppered across the diamond. Time will tell.

    • Greenfield Red

      Why? The major league teams he has been on are roughly 200 games below .500 and are 2-9 in the playoffs and have never advanced to the 2nd round. You would better off to always bet against JV and the teams he has been on.

      • greenmtred

        He probably meant Votto, not the teams he played on.

      • Greenfield Red

        I get it, but JV is the leader of this team and has been since he signed “the contract”.

        I would bet against JV having a career average season this year as well as his team not playing .500 ball.

      • Tampa Red

        Yeah, but that wasn’t the bet. You just made up a new one to blame Votto for the lousy team performance.

      • Greenfield Red

        Tampa, you can call it what you want. The Votto era has been a failure. He was/is the face of the franchise.

        I want the Reds to win the WS. Didn’t come close in his era.

      • Redgoggles

        Blame Mike Trout for the Angels too? It takes more than one guy – even a superstar – to have a winning team. Votto has always handled himself with class, even though I’m sure he would have preferred to be in a winning organization.

      • Greenfield Red

        I don’t care about Mike Trout. I care about the Reds. They have not been a factor since the Griffey trade and that includes the Votto era. When you get all the money, Griffey and Votto both did, you are the face of the franchise. Both failed.

        And lets throw in that the few times the Reds made the playoffs in his era, Votto has not performed at all in the post season.

      • Melvin

        @Greenfield Red – Do you think it’s Votto’s fault the Reds were not winning? Do you think a baseball player can put a team on his back like a basketball player can at times (Michael Jordan)? Even in basketball ownership still needs to put pieces around the “star” for the team to be successful. Don’t you think? You have to admit Votto hasn’t exactly had a great deal of chances to perform in the playoffs. Do you think that’s his fault? Is it all on his shoulders?

      • Greenfield Red

        Last couple of years excluded, he has had the pieces around him to win. It’s not all on his shoulders, but some of it is. Leadership is part of it. I’ve never seen him display any. Drive to win is part of it. I’ve never seen him display any. When you are the face it’s about more than your stats. He has has several really good statistical years, but has not shown the other stuff… and has not won.

        Your point about limited playoff chances actually makes my point more than it does anyone else’s point. Why were there not more playoff chances?

      • Doug Gray

        To answer your question of “why were there not more playoff chances?” question, I’ll leave you with this:

        Because the franchise didn’t have enough good players.

      • Melvin

        @ Greenfield Red – I’m sure you know there are different types of leadership. There are guys who are vocal and others who basically lead by example. In either case it’s not going to work unless other players follow that leadership. In the case of Votto, I can think on NO ONE who is better at leading by example. His work ethic is surpassed by none (I’m sure most would agree) as well as the way he studies the game. If any of the players who have been fortunate enough to play with Votto over the years followed his example (I’m not sure any have completely) they would all have been better players and made the Reds a better team therefore increasing the chances of winning. There are some who would say for the most part Moose has been a leader over the years. I ask you which one (what type) would you rather have?

      • Redgoggles

        I don’t “care” about Mike Trout either, just using him/Angels to illustrate that even a generational superstar like Mike Trout isn’t enough to turn the Angels into a consistent winning team during his tenure ther. Like Trout (and JV isn’t MK), Votto had the misfortune of being drafted by a losing organization during his career here. It’s not a reflection of him as a player, but the organization/ownership during his time here. I think we all wish it were different.

  11. MK

    I personally had surgery and extensive rehab for a shoulder injury which included torn muscle and ruptured tendon. My orthopedic medical pros (at least one who had previously worked with Kremcheck) told me that although I could start getting back to normal in 6 to 8 weeks that it takes 12 months for these type surgeries to heal completely. During his interview Joe talked about not feeling 100% but couldn’t explain why. I understand that as I had the same feeling and about a year out, I realized that this feeling was gone. I hope his six-month prognosis is correct but am not as optimistic.

  12. Jim Walker

    Seems to me Votto is being honest most importantly with himself but also with the public. The most important thing he said was that there is a difference between doing “very well” in recovery/ rehab and being MLB game ready.

    He’s busted his butt and done work beyond what he has ever been called upon to do before in rehab. Folks say he has done very well. Yet when he tries to start hitting or doing defensive work, his body tells him it isn’t there (yet) to do what he needs to do to play at MLB levels.

    All we can do is wish him well and hope along with him that things eventually come around,

  13. redfanorbust

    There is no need to rush Votto back if he is not 100%. In probably his final year with the Reds anyway he deserves to go out on the field being the best hitter he can be. Give him till May or whenever. No one wants to see the great JV hit .205. Besides the more Tyler Stevenson plays 1B and away from catching the better I feel.

    • Doc

      Hasn’t it taken him until June, give or take, the last several years to reach above the .205, give or take, level? I don’t think 3 months and 300 ABs tells us much unless they are 3 really good months and 300 really good ABs. Otherwise it will look the same it has looked the past few years and we’ll be 20 games out before the hits come, if they do.

      Votto’s 2023 should mirror Pujols’ 2022, in my opinion. Selective playing as each stadium is visited on a farewell tour.

  14. Mark Moore

    I appreciate his honesty and his commitment to rehab. My guess (and that’s all it is) is that we’ll see him about a month in. I realize DTBell is a wildcard here once Joey is available, but I have to think Joey won’t just take up a spot without providing some input. At least I hope that’s the case. He just wants to play well. Right now, it looks like there are options for 2023. That was not the case as 2022 belly-crawled to a close.

  15. Dirty447

    As a huge Joey fan I have to say that nostalgia and love for Joey has blinded a huge part of the fan base regarding his future in the game. He has been a great player but he hasn’t been “great” since 2017. His renaissance run in 2021 was awesome, but it was still a far cry from traditional Joey numbers. He’s entering his age 39 season and coming off of a significant injury. He will go down as a Reds great and will absolutely be in the Reds hall of fame, but unfortunately, all good things must come to an end. At some point it starts to become sad seeing one of the greats refuse to acknowledge their prime is years in the rear view, and continue to sink deeper and deeper into mediocrity.

  16. Roger Garrett

    I hope Joey returns and does well but it has little or nothing to do with this year or beyond for the Reds.He is part of the past and not part of the future.I remember how great he was just like I remember the Big Red Machine days but thats all they are memories.I agree with most in the fact he will play when he says he is ready and I believe he will play regardless of how he does.No problem because he has probably earned that right and again it doesn’t really matter.

  17. Larry Baker

    Votto might start looking for his future. If Votto wants to continue his career in 2024 with a playoff team, he needs to have a good year with the Reds. There is no need for Votto to rush back next year. The Reds are not a playoff type team. Let Votto get healthy and maybe he can put up enough numbers to get a new contact from a winning team. Maybe Votto could find a DH role with a championship type team.

    • Doug Gray

      If Votto has a good year then the Reds will pick up his option. For all of the cheapness they seem to want to have, they’ll pay $14M for one last hurrah in 2024 if Votto has a good year in 2023 ($14M is what they would have to pay beyond his buyout if they didn’t want to bring him back).

      • Melvin

        I’d like to think you’re correct. With any other owner probably. With this one though….I don’t know. I think he wants to play longer. Hope he does personally.