Folks worried about how Joey Votto is doing can take a sigh of relief.
The Cincinnati Reds' first baseman appeared with the team's AAA affiliate the Louisville Bats over the weekend after Cincinnati had placed him on the 10-day injury list retroactive to March 27. Votto needed a little extra time to work on mechanics after being sidelined since August 19 with a rotator cuff injury and subsequent surgery, he and Reds coaches said throughout spring training.
Votto may not need much more work before heading back to the majors, though, because what he did against the Nashville Sounds was pure Votto magic, complete with plenty of firsts. Wearing a Bats uniform during the first game of the April 1 double header (the March 30 game had been moved due to weather), Votto entered the batter's box for the first time this season with two outs and nobody on. On his first pitch of the first inning, Votto slammed a home run to right-center for 448 feet at 107.9 MPH – his longest homer since September 2021.
Watch Votto's dinger:
Votto went 1-for-3 during the game, which Nashville won 3-1. He did not play the second game of the double header, which Nashville took 5-4.
.@JoeyVotto homers on the first pitch he sees in the 2023 season❗️ pic.twitter.com/Geg8JSrGyS— Cincinnati Reds (@Reds) April 1, 2023
Votto had season-ending rotator cuff surgery on Aug. 19. As 2022 wrapped, officials projected that the 39-year-old first baseman would heal in time for spring training and the 2023 season. He had rehabbed during the off-season, and during the final week of spring training in Arizona, Votto had gotten closer to daily playing form, Reds manager David Bell told reporters at the time. As the team set their sights on opening day, Bell sent Votto to Louisville for a little extra work and healing.
To everyone that didn’t say Votto: how dare you. https://t.co/gk3Bwvlgre— Louisville Bats (@LouisvilleBats) April 1, 2023
Before the season began, Votto jokingly predicted that aliens may help the Reds win a World Series, but as of press time, their assistance hasn't been confirmed.
Votto is in the final year of his 10-year, $225 million contract with the Reds and has a $20 million option for 2024. He has said multiple times that he wants to remain a Red for his entire playing career. Since reaching the majors in 2007, Votto has reached a number of big-time club and league milestones, succeeding through both the finesse-pitching and speedball-pitching eras. After he retires, he'll pretty much be a lock for the Reds Hall of Fame and even possibly, some experts say, Cooperstown.
As of April 3, the Louisville Bats are 1-2 on the season, while the Cincinnati Reds are 2-1. See photos from the Reds' opening day festivities.
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