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.