Reds need Votto regardless of health
JUL 04, 2014 6:21p ET
CINCINNATI -- Everyone wants to know what's up with Joey.
Since the Reds were out of town for the last week and a half a lot of curious people finally got to ask Bryan Price that in person Friday afternoon. The Reds' manager is an understanding person but it's easy to see that the question of Votto's health and what it means to the team's lineup and offensive production is wearing thin with him.
"I wish it wasn't a talking point," said Price prior to Friday's opener of a three-game series against division-leading Milwaukee at Great American Ball Park. "I know it is because you guys (media) watch him play and have certain expectations but he's out there giving us everything he's got. It's very difficult to talk about on a daily basis. He's not 100 percent. He's not going to be 100 percent this year. We're going to hope to extract everything we can out of him when he's in the lineup."
Price's patience is going to be tested the rest of the season because the subject of Votto and his left knee isn't going to go away.
The numbers speak volumes enough about Votto; he's hitting just .259 and his on-base percentage is at .398. That's a figure most any player would take in a heartbeat but for Votto it's the first time he's gotten on base less than 40 percent of the time he goes to the plate since the middle of April. We're talking about a player whose career OBP coming into the season was .419 and who has led the National League in that category the past four seasons.
Despite the less-than-Votto numbers for Votto, his presence in the lineup is vital for the Reds. Since he returned from the disabled list on June 10 against Los Angeles, the Reds have averaged five runs per game. That includes the three-game sweep suffered in San Diego this week when they managed just two runs and were shut out twice.
Votto was given the day off on Wednesday, although he did pinch hit in the eighth inning of a 3-0 loss that ended the 10-game road trip. He's back in the lineup Friday batting third against the Brewers.
Votto is hitting .263 in 21 games since coming off the DL. He had a nine-game hitting streak to begin that return and has been on base at least once in 18 of the 20 games he's started. The power is still absent from Votto's bat -- he hasn't hit a home run since May 10 -- but he isn't making any excuses.
"As long as I'm playing, I'm 100 percent," Votto told reporters during the road trip. "If you're on the DL, you're not playing. If you're on the field, you're playing. I can't say anything more than that. The expectation for me should be to play at or near my best all the time. If I'm out on the field not performing well, it's because I'm not performing well, not because I'm not healthy."
Healthy is going to be a relative term associated with Votto the rest of the season. Everyone better get used to it.
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