Joey Votto: Reds ‘have a legitimate shot at winning the division’

Last year was a very un-Joey Votto-like season.

For the first time since 2014, the Cincinnati Reds first baseman failed to hit .300. Votto, a six-time All-Star, played in 145 games, batted .284 and hit 12 home runs to go with 67 RBIs.

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Despite the statistical dip, Votto remains one of the more feared hitters in baseball. He was an All-Star last season and led the National League in on-base percentage (.417) for the seventh time in nine years.

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The 2010 National League MVP met with the media after the Reds first full-squad workout Monday and talked about last season’s struggles and the optimistic outlook for 2019.

Q: You changed up your offseason routine this year. What was the reasoning behind that?

A: I think that I was embarrassed … I don’t like to use the word embarrassed because I was really proud of the effort last year. I just wasn’t satisfied with my performance and I feel I came into camp a little bit behind and the one thing I’ve found as I’ve gotten older is you just have to put in more reps and the reps have to be more technically sound. I felt last year I was a little sloppy with that. I say the word proud though because despite the slow start I ended up being an All-Star and I felt like I was ready to play nearly every day. It was an eye-opening experience for me last season and I can’t just roll in and get what I’m used to.

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Q: How do you keep the same excitement every season?

A: There’s always something new to be challenged by and every year there’s always something I want to fix and something to get better at and that’s what keeps my interest. I love wearing the uniform, I love playing in front of the Reds fans and I feel very lucky to be able to be a major league player.

Q: You’ve accomplished a lot in your career so what does a guy like you, who has done as much as you have individually, still work on?

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A: My perspective on it, I don’t feel like I’ve done that much. I feel like I’ve got a long way to go, and relative to the people I look up to, I’ve done very little so I feel like I have a long way to go.

Q: What’s it like to form a relationship with a new manager and how has (new Reds manager) David (Bell) been with you so far?

A: Good, he’s been very open and he’s that way with everybody. He’s been nothing but professional so far but we just got started, you know. Today is the first day.

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Q: With all of the changes to the roster, how has that affected your mood going into this season?

A: Optimistic … I’m excited about all of the guys. There are so many new faces. I was telling some guys I’m excited to hit and learn and compete with guys on my team. I’m excited about playing behind some of the new pitching staff … I think this feels like a completely different camp because I think we have a legitimate shot at winning the division this year.

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