Reds first baseman Joey Votto said he understands why second baseman Brandon Phillips questioned his big contract extension during a magazine interview that was released on Friday.
In the upcoming issue of Cincinnati Magazine, Phillips is quoted as saying he is ”still scarred” that the front office gave Votto a 10-year, $225 million extension in 2012, when the first baseman still had two years left on his contract.
At the time, Phillips was in his option year trying to get a multiyear extension. He thought his chances of staying in Cincinnati were gone because Votto got such a big deal. Phillips wound up agreeing to a five-year extension worth $72.5 million a few days later.
The two infielders started for the National League in the All-Star game on Wednesday. Votto is under contract through 2023, Phillips through 2017.
Votto said on Friday before the start of a series against the Pittsburgh Pirates that Phillips had talked to him about the matter and he had no problems with the comments.
”Brandon is always totally honest,” Votto said. ”He’s been my teammate for six or seven years now, and I love playing with him. I have a tremendous amount of respect for him.
”What he said has nothing to do with me, but what he had to say makes me like him even more. He’s honest. Most players stick to using catch phrases – like I’m doing now – but he will tell you how he feels at that moment.”
Phillips said he was surprised that Votto got such a big deal based upon what general manager Walt Jocketty and owner Bob Castellini had been telling him while negotiating the second baseman’s deal.
”Do I feel like they lied to me?” Phillips said. ”If someone tells me they don’t have no money and you find $200 million somewhere, what does that sound like? You tell me.
"For [Castellini] to do something like that and tell me they didn’t have any more money, that’s a lie. But what can I do? I just feel like it was a slap in my face.
”I’m very happy for Joey, don’t get me wrong. I’m happy for everything that happened to Joey. I thought for myself, I was done. I was mad that I thought I wasn’t going to be a Cincinnati Red anymore.”
Castellini and Jocketty honored Phillips, Votto and reliever Aroldis Chapman on the field Friday for their appearances in the All-Star game.