Reds first baseman Joey Votto needed a break from the worst season of his career.
“I had a lot of down time,” Votto said. “I did a lot of training but no baseball stuff. I feel good and ready to go.”
The 36-year old decided to pace himself and take a mental break from the game and come into the season refreshed.
The Reds will conduct their first full-squad workout of spring training on Tuesday. The spring opener is Saturday vs. the Indians.
Votto has been through lean times and good times with the Reds. As a 23-year-old, Votto broke into the big leagues in 2007, hitting .321 in 24 games at the end of the season. The next season, he was a regular. By 2010 he was an MVP of the National League Central Division champions with 37 home runs, 113 RBIs, a .324 batting average and .424 on-base percentage.
Votto, the longest tenured current Reds player, signed a 10-year contract through the 2023 season. He was a star player on a team that has suffered six losing seasons as they team tried to rebuild.
Votto is a six-time NL All-Star and the only Reds first baseman ever to win a Rawlings Gold Glove Award. He was runner-up in the MVP voting in 2017.
Votto followed a down 2018 season (.284, 12 home runs, 67 RBIs) with a worse one last year. His batting average (.261) was 46 points below his career average (.307). He hit just 15 home runs and walked just 76 times, the only time he has been below 100 walks in a season where he didn’t spend significant time on the injured list.
“Last year was the worst season of my career,” Votto said. “I played poorly and I don’t want to rehash that.”
He decided to come to Arizona earlier than the appointed time.
“I wanted to get acclimated to Arizona,” Votto said. “I was going to go on a trip before I got here. But I decided against it because I didn’t want to deal with too much jet lag. I will have to save that for after we win the World Series.”
Even though he was cleansing his mind from baseball, he was aware of the many offseason moves the front office was making.
“I followed the moves this winter,” Votto said. “I got a lot of messages from friends updating me on how we were looking. I was shocked for sure and it seemed like it was one after the other. I was pleasantly surprised. When they signed Nick (Castellanos) I realized how serious we were. It’s exciting.”
“Like anybody who has watched this team over the last little bit, I think we’re excited about being competitive throughout the entire season. If we stay healthy, we will play some meaningful baseball in September and hopefully in October.”
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