Where is Joey Votto?
Yes, he's on the disabled list and rehabbing a lingering leg injury that has limited his productivity this season. But where is the Reds' $225 million man mentally?
Throughout his ordeal at the plate and in the training room, the 30-year-old has remained tightlipped about his injury and performance during the 2014 campaign.
However on Thursday, the typically soft-spoken Votto lashed out at his critics and made public comments about his physical status.
LISTEN: Full interview on ESPN 1530’s website
"Let's make it clear here -- I think there's been a real gray area and I feel like I've been the one in the crosshairs -- I've been injured," said Votto who has been on the DL since July 8 with a distal quad strain in his left knee. It's his second such stint on the list this season.
The Reds transferred him form the 15-day DL to the 60-day list on Aug. 16. As of Friday, he has missed 65 of the team's 127 games.
"I feel like this is something I've had hanging over me in the general population, the fans, I think it's a toughness, or playing through pain sort of thing, or playing hurt sort of thing. I've been injured. I played injured. I went on the DL because I'm injured. I'm trying to be un-injured now."
Votto has had 272 at-bats over 62 games, hitting just .255 with 22 extra-base hits, only six of which are home runs. He does have a .390 on-base percentage (OBP), but when you’re slugging only .409 that isn’t exactly what fans want to see out of their middle-of-the-lineup guy.
His .799 OPS (OBP plus slugging percentage) is more than 150 points below his career average and well below the .947 number in 2011 that helped land him a 10-year, $225 million deal from the Reds.
Team doctors said they expect the injury to limit him and his performance for the rest of the season.
As for his plans for the rest of the season? Votto says he'll be back “the second (he’s) capable of playing and… no longer injured.”
As for the naysayers? “You can assume I'm injured."
“I shouldn't get some sort of different treatment, as if this is -- I've noticed little comments here and there and just a general perception that this is something I elected to do,” he said. “I didn't elect to be injured. I am injured. People get injured. I am injured. What can I do? At some point I'll be back playing like I was playing before."
The Reds can use it.
After playoff berths the last two seasons, Cincinnati is a season-high 10 1/2 games back in the National League Central Division -- its biggest deficit since the end of the 2011 season.
They've lost 11 of their last 13 games and are 10-23 since the All-Star break, tumbling out of playoff contention.
Despite his lackluster performance at the plate, the Reds had been a much better team with Votto than without him.
The Reds went 11-12 while he was on the DL from May 16 to June 9. They went 17-9 after he returned.
Votto will be eligible to be reinstated Sept. 4.