The Cincinnati Reds roster is taking shape for opening day, but there is still one big question: Will Joey Votto be ready to play on Opening Day? Spring training is over, but there are still three days remaining before the season begins. We got the answer to that on Monday afternoon at Great American Ball Park.

Joey Votto will begin the season on the injured list. The Cincinnati Reds first baseman announced at a press conference this afternoon, first reported by Joe Danneman of Fox 19, that he would begin the season on the injured list, but would be rehabbing with the Triple-A Louisville Bats. Louisville’s season begins on Friday March 31st in Nashville.

Votto is coming off of surgery from August of last year that repaired both his rotator cuff as well as a torn biceps muscle. He missed the beginning of spring training games, not taking the field with the club in games until March 12th. The first baseman played in just eight games after that, going 4-22 (.182) with a double, four walks, and six strikeouts in 26 plate appearances. On Sunday when the team wrapped up their spring training schedule with a set of split squad games, Votto opted to play in a minor league game at the Reds complex. That can be beneficial in the sense that the rules can be altered to where he can bat in every single inning of a game, and even go back-and-forth between the two games that are taking place and hit in both of them if it works out that way. But you are also not likely facing big league pitching in those games, either (but you may not be in the final games of spring training).

The Reds first baseman and likely future Hall of Famer spoke this week, though, about what his future could hold. He told the assembled media on Saturday afternoon that if he didn’t perform well that he would retire.

I’ve done really well with my offensive work,” Votto said. “I mean this, seriously, I think I’m going to play well. I think I’m going to perform well offensively. If not, I’m going to retire. End of story.

He expanded on where he feels like he was at on Saturday, hinting more that he may not be ready to start the season on time, telling the Cincinnati Enquirer that his swing didn’t feel ready yet. Nor did his legs. Votto seemed to be hinting at what was coming, though he wasn’t quite ready to state it out loud at the time.

With Joey Votto not being ready to start the season on time, that would seem to open up a spot on the roster for one of Jason Vosler or Henry Ramos. Without Votto on the roster it would seem that both players would make the team given that there are only 11 other position players ready to start the season, plus those two as non-roster invitees still remaining in “spring training”. Ramos spent time with Team Puerto Rico in the World Baseball Classic, but hit .448/.469/.759 with two walks and two strikeouts in 32 plate appearances with the Reds. Vosler wasn’t quite as good at the plate, but hit .263/.341/.526 in 44 plate appearances with four walks and 13 strikeouts. Ramos only play in the outfield, while Vosler’s been able to play just about everywhere except catcher in his career.

68 Responses

  1. CI3J

    It ultimately doesn’t matter.

    If he’s not ready Opening Day, he’ll be ready shortly thereafter. The Reds have plenty of players who can cover 1st base in the meantime. Plus Votto isn’t really much of a force any more, so him playing or not doesn’t really change things much for the Reds.

    • David

      “Plus Votto isn’t really much of a force anymore….”

      BLASPHEMY!! 🙂

      No really, I get it. Based on last year, his presence may be negligible. I would like to think he will bounce back after shoulder surgery, but that may be wishful thinking.

      If Henry Ramos makes the squad, then Wil Myers shares time at 1st base with Tyler Stephenson.
      Since Ramos is a switch hitter, he could then DH. Or Ramos plays left and Fraley is the DH. David Bell can probably have a lot of fun with this.
      If Vosler makes the squad, he can play all over. And David Bell has MORE fun with this.
      They had this guy named Christian Encarnacion Strand in Spring Training, but I heard his back was hurt, so he might be out for a while. And this other guy named Fairchild who is an excellent all-around outfielder, but he’s lost in the Minors some where.
      If Vosler makes the squad, and Votto takes a while, and Vosler doesn’t do well, there’s always McGarry in AAA at first base.

      • Doc

        Votto hasn’t been effective the first couple months of the season for several years now. Perhaps he can spend those ineffective months in Louisville, then the effective ones with the Reds. Of course, if the shoulder has been troubling him for five years or more as was written along the way, he may find effectiveness very quickly.

      • Jimbo44CN

        You cannot base his performance last year on this years version. Rotator cuff surgery as well as a torn bicep muscle is extremely debilitating. How you or anyone else thinks you can play up to your abilities with those two injuries has never had either. I have had both, and how he kept going I have no idea. Rotator cuff injuries only get worse with use, and swing a baseball bat must have been excruciating at the end. Give me a break.

      • TOM

        There’s no reason Ramos & Vosler can’t make the club. As much as I hate saying this both would help the club more than Votto. He should retire & that way he can join the BLM.

      • greenmtred

        It’s a big decision, Tom. If you decide to, have a plan for keeping busy.

  2. MBS

    I could see Fairchild making it if Votto isn’t ready to go. There are only so many 40 man spots. They just added Law to the 40, plus probably another 1 or 2 pitchers will still need to be added. I’m guessing Volser might be left out.

    • Jim Walker

      As I said on another thread, among Weaver, Sims, and Santillan there will probably end up being at least two 60 day IL spots as things play out. The problem is the situations are far enough along to know which 2 would cost the team little or no MLB availability if they were put on th 60 day list now.

  3. Bdh

    This might get interesting if Votto doesn’t start the year in Cincinnati.

    Law is already 1 NRI making the team. I figured 2 more would make it (Young + 1 of Ramos/Vosler) but not all 3.

    My guess

    If Votto starts in Cincinnati then Ramos is the position player NRI to make it

    If Votto starts on IL then I think they’ll want another member of the 40 man to occupy a spot until he’s back. I think it’ll be Fairchild and since they won’t want 6 OF they’ll take Vosler over Ramos in that situation.

    • MK

      They brought Ramos and Vosler to Cincinnati with one 26-man spot available so it tells you they will both make it if Votto not available. Sometimes we forget there is a need for a DH. I think Ramos bet fits that bill with Vosler at first. With Antone , Dunn and Guttierez they can have 3 40-man spots but I figure they need 4 so they will need to come up with one, if Votto can’t go. Joe needs to suck it up and DH for a few weeks less than 100%, to help the team.

      • Bdh

        Thought they already had moved Gutierrez to the 60 day when they signed Sousa?

        Antone and Dunn give them 2 spots (Law and Young)

        They still need 2 more

  4. LDS

    Considering what JV has played through the last couple of years, if he’s says he’s not sure he’s ready, I think I’d believe him and put him on the IL. At his age, following major surgery, rushing his return is about the worst thing they could do to him.

  5. LT

    Mark it down “Retire. End of story.” Let it be written. Let it be done.

    • Doug Gray

      In time it’ll happen. He isn’t retiring anytime soon. He’ll give it a go on the field and see what happens for a while before that kind of decision is made.

      • TOM

        Votto giving it a go would just hurt the team. Lets face it his best days are behind him.

      • LT

        That’s my worst nightmare. Votto will struggle and he will come up with different reasons to keep playing. 100% agree with you that he won’t retire any time soon. My prayer won’t be answered.

      • Doug Gray

        That’s a weird thing to pray about.

  6. Bdh

    I’m guessing Fairchild and Vosler to Cincinnati now that Votto is staying down for a week. With Elly and CES I’m Guessing Louisville’s starting lineup Friday looks like this

    C – Robinson
    1B – Votto
    2B – Lopez
    SS – McLain
    3B – Reynolds
    LF – Solak or Hopkins
    CF – Siani (Senzel is staying in Arizona correct?)
    RF – Ramos
    DH – McGarry

    Doug – are Ivan Johnson and Miguel Hernandez no longer in the organization or injured? Figured both would be AAA players but didn’t hear a peep about either all spring. Also how many catchers will Louisville carry? Robinson, Yang, Free, Pereda all can’t be there right?

  7. Bdh

    Also mark it down now that Votto will be here next year. They haven’t marketed one thing about this being his last year and he wouldn’t miss opening day if he was planning on retiring after this season

  8. Jim Walker

    I am sorry for Joey and the fans that he isn’t ready to go. I am happy for Joey and the fans that he flexed his leverage, spoke candidly on record, and did not cave to pressure to start the season on the active roster for the sake of an opening day cameo only to go on the IL the next day.

  9. Kevin Patrick

    Ok…so I accidentally put on my tin foil hat this morning. I’m receiving signals from the aliens above Toronto who are eavesdropping on trade talks between the Reds and the Jays trying to figure out how both Cincinnati and Canada can say “Goodbye” to one of the greatest players that I have ever seen. Both parties are keeping an eye out on Joey’s Twitter handle for any indication of what he wants to do. The aliens are sending a team of spies to challenge Joey’s chess partners to 7 minute chess games in the hopes they will disclose any conversations Joey may have had with them concerning what he actually wants to do. Even with my awesome hat, I can’t penetrate the enigma that is Joey Votto.

    • David

      You know, that’s a nice story and thought. But I think Toronto is actually contemplating being competitive in the AL East, and they don’t have room on their 26 man roster for a sentimental position player.
      When Joey was productive, there might have been a deal worked out, but that ship has long ago sailed.

    • Chuck Powers

      Watch more baseball. Votto isn’t a good baseball player and hasn’t been one over the last decade.

      • Doug Gray

        Chuck…. a decade is 10 years. Over the last 10 seasons Joey Votto has hit .286/.410/.490. That’s a .901 OPS. That’s good. In that time he’s finished in the top 3 of MVP voting twice, and in the top 7 of the MVP voting four times. He’s led the league in OPS in that time frame. he’s led the league in walks three times in that time frame. He’s led the league in on-base percentage four times in that time frame. Heck, TWO YEARS AGO Joey Votto had a .938 OPS. That was the 7th best OPS in Major League Baseball.

      • DHud

        The same Votto who hit 36 HRs in 2021? Last I checked that’s this decade

        Watch more baseball

      • TOM

        I don’t know about a decade but he hasn’t done much the last few years except count his dough.

      • Doug Gray

        Literally two seasons ago he had the 7th highest OPS in Major League Baseball, Tom.

      • greenmtred

        And last year he was playing with a torn rotator cuff and bicep.

    • LDS

      From Bowdon on TheAthletic this morning:

      “The Reds grant Joey Votto’s request and trade him to the Blue Jays at the deadline to give him the opportunity to play in the postseason and maybe even the World Series. Cincinnati receives two mid-level prospects in return after agreeing to pay most of Votto’s remaining salary as well as the $7 million buyout for the 2024 team option. The Reds turn the page to their future and Votto, a Toronto native, fittingly finishes his career with the Jays.”

      I don’t know if Bowdon is still dialed into the FOs around the league or he’s spit-balling. Regardless, I have an archaic world view that Votto should finish his career in Cincinnati. On the other hand, the Reds have wasted his talents and his playoff appearances amount to only 47 PAs, 14 of which came in wild card games. So, if as Bowdon implies that JV wants a trade, give it to him. Otherwise, give him a good send off this year and make a show of it.

      • Westfester

        It’s Bowden, not Bowdon. And I take any kind of statements from Ol’ Leatherpants with a high degree of skepticism.

      • LDS

        Yeah, I know but Apple corrected me and I didn’t catch it

      • Redsvol

        Its Jim Bowden……he is always “spit-balling”

    • JayTheRed

      As a big Blue Jays fan that I am (My AL Team) I can promise you the Blue Jays have about zero interest currently in Joey Votto and his contract. There is this guy named Vlad Guerrero that plays 1st base already and they have way to many guys vying for the DH already.

      In a lot of polls Toronto is picked to win the Division this year and I am so excited to watch the Blue Jays this year. Very good Hitting and Pretty deep pitching too. It could be their year.

    • Kevin H

      Votto doesn’t want to play for his hometown. I have a friend who lives in Toronto and Votto has made it known. Plus Jay’s don’t have a spot for him

      • greenmtred

        Maybe word spreads really well in Toronto?

  10. Optimist

    If Ramos can fill the “good-hitting Solano” DH spot on this year’s roster, fine, but I’d prefer Fairchild for various reasons, the least of which is the 40-man roster issue.

    These are all end of the roster spots, and with the injured pitchers likely going on the 60-day list, they have plenty of time to cycle thru NRIs, MiLB callups and so forth. Keep in in mind there’s also another pitcher likely to be claimed/signed in the next few days.

    They only have Marte, EDLC and Siani as non-26 man field players on the 40-man – there are some pitchers they could release/DFA and likely keep on MiLB contracts going forward.

    If Solak, Ramos or Vosler are on the roster in August the front office is not doing it correctly.

    • David

      Solano was a pretty decent hitter for his career, and it was not a fluke he hit well for the Reds last year. It was a reasonable acquisition for Nick Krall last season. And Solano was hurt for the first few months of 2022, as I recall.
      Ramos has very few ML at bats, and it is a big question whether he can sustain hitting at the ML Level. I think he can, and would have more power than Solano, but this all remains to be seen. He could be a keeper or a cropper.
      Fairchild is a pretty good outfielder, all around, and actually has a lot more ML AB’s than Ramos. Isn’t baseball weird? If he is on the roster, then that gives David Bell more opportunities to play knifey-spooney with the platoon thing in the outfield.

      It might all be moot, if Joey decides he can hack it on Opening Day.
      Go Joey!
      Go Reds!

    • MK

      Remember the first time it was announced Frazier made the team and he was gone before Opening Day after they picked up Alfredo Simon.

  11. MK

    If Votto can play at AAA he can DH for Reds. Come on. He is just creating a roster bind.

    • Optimist

      I read it as that is what he will determine. Swing and legs not ready indicates playing in Louisville will help him figure that out – I expect when they’re both ready, he’ll be back up to DH and can take his time getting adjusted on defense.

  12. Melvin

    I say he’ll most likely make it for opening day and possibly the opening series then see how he feels from there. Who knows? When the adrenaline gets flowing again he might be more ready than he thinks. As for the DH. We’ve got three catchers for crying out loud. It’s always covered in a pinch.

  13. Dennis Westrick

    Need Votto for the long haul, not for opening series at home against the Pie-Rats and th Stupid Cubbie Bears! If the Reds can’t get off to a decent start against these teams without Votto then we have bigger problems!

  14. David

    According to “Reds News” on the Cincinnati Reds website, as of 12:49 pm today (March 27th), Joey Votto will open the year on the IL list.

  15. old-school

    Looks like Strickland and chase Anderson will accept assignments to Louisville.
    You’ve not seen the last of Strickland, RLN!
    -C trent

    • Mark Moore

      Anderson yes … but Strickland (again)??? 😮 (expletive avoided)

      • Frankie Tomatoes

        Hunter Strickland has superior numbers to Chase Anderson so I do not understand this comment.

      • Mark Moore

        Starter vs. reliever, Frankie T. That’s why I made the comment.

    • Dennis Westrick

      Noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo! Maybe the Louisville Bats can use Strickland to toss bags of peanuts to fans! I’m sure that would be a “hit’!

    • Redsvol

      we need a pool for which player gets booted off the 40 man roster. Because its going to happen and happen soon. I would say the odds of first out line up like this;
      – 1st – Nick Solak
      2nd – Ricky Karcher
      3rd – Justin Dunn (why would anyone claim him given his recent performanc/injuries)

  16. Mark Moore

    Wondering how long his rehab stint will last before he moves back to Cincy. 40-man slots still have to get figured out regardless since he’s not going on the 60-day.

    Looking forward to how this season starts. Something seems a little different with the boys this year. As long as we don’t see DTBell do his “over-manage” stuff, I think we’ll see 70-75 wins … barring a carryover of the 2022 major injury plague that is.

    • Dennis Westrick

      I am “over” Bell’s management style! That assumes you can call Bell’s over-managing a style!

    • wkuchad

      I like our starting position players (if we can stay mostly healthy). But 75 wins seems like a stretch with only three starting pitchers (all young) and still a questionable bullpen.

      Krall really needed to sign a serviceable, veteran starting pitcher this offseason.

      • Harry Stoner

        I think the Weaver signing was that move, however marginal it was.

        And with LW out, we might not know for awhile, if ever how it pans out.

        The Minor deal probably spooked folks in the front office.

        The return of Jonny Beisbol maybe just seemed too enjoyable to be real.

        JC has had a rough spring so far, so the second guessing of that idea may be on the mark.

        Three or four nights a week of anticipated baseball is a nice change from 2022. I include Cessa in that list, and if the Reds catch lightening in a bottle again with Overton finding his way, perhaps even better.

        Bell’s ‘managing’ will still likely drive me crazy but at the moment, I like the pieces he has to fiddle around with.

        At least until the Reds resign Pinder and call up Reynolds. 😉

        Out of the 30 yr old retreads, Vosler remains perhaps the most interesting to me based on his AAA numbers. But he’s pretty old to be still riding on those.

    • LDS

      I don’t know Mark. We know Bell will over manage. But, I’m with wkuchad on this one (say it ain’t so). I don’t see that the Reds have the pitching to win 70.

      • Melvin

        Like I said, the Big Three and two days of rain. 🙂

      • TR

        As it used to be said when the Braves were in their original home city, Boston, and then Milwaukee, ‘Spahn and Sain and pray for rain.’

  17. GreatRedLegsFan

    Any news upon the 5th starter riddle?

    • Doug Gray

      No riddle at this point. Luis Cessa and Connor Overton are the 4th and 5th starters in some order.

  18. CFD3000

    Is there a limit to how many rehab games Votto can play while on the IL? I have a lot of respect for his recognizing that he’s not 100% yet, and doesn’t want to hurt the team or himself by trying to do too much too soon. If he gets back up to speed and does have a strong offensive year – remember just two seasons ago he hit 36 home runs with a .900+ OPS – it will have been worth the wait. If not, it won’t matter.

    • Doug Gray

      Games, no. But he gets 20 days before he has to return.

  19. Old-school

    David Bell referenced 8 days multiple times. Basically first home stand and targeting first road trip.

    Kremcheck did an interview over 2 weeks ago on 700 WLW and was asked about votto and Senzel making opening day. He said OD is 1 day. Its about preparing for game 42 and 82 and being ready for the long season

  20. Tim

    Votto is one of the best players to put on the Cincinnati jersey. He deserves a farewell tour and we want to see him finish here. His last year wasn’t very good but we know why. It doesn’t benefit him or the team for him to play with a nagging injury. It will harm his final HOF numbers. Let him see if he can get up to speed on rehab where it doesn’t hurt his numbers and doesn’t hurt the team. If he can get back he will. If he can’t do it right, I believe him when he says he’ll retire. At this point in his career, legacy is more important than money, especially for a baseball savant like Votto.

  21. Hotto4Votto

    Glad the team and Votto aren’t going to rush back. No sense to jeopardize complete recovery to get a jump on playing this season. Votto’s been a slow starter recently anyway, maybe missing the cold month of April will be a bonus. Really hoping for a really nice final go-round for Votto. He’s given a lot to this team and city and baseball in general, it’d be nice for him to go out with a nice season.