Photo Video
Joey Votto taking batting practice at Spring Training
Hide Caption
Prev
Reds 1B Joey Votto looks good leading up to Opening Day Joey Votto in action Joey Votto talks in spring training
Next

Reds 1B Joey Votto looks good leading up to Opening Day

a a a a
Share this story
Show Related Headlines
Related Articles
Reds' biggest concern: Are they healed?

GOODYEAR, Ariz. - One of the chief concerns for the Reds in 2013 is returning Joey Votto back to his normal self at the plate. It's been a spring of restoration for him, both physical and mental. Restoring confidence for Joey and restoring confidence in Joey.

Votto's knee injury in June 2012 took all of the power out of his swing, and despite a mid .300 average in the games following his injury/surgery/recovery, he didn't hit a single home run and his doubles production was cut in half.

"He came back last year and he didn't know how to be," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "[He was] real ginger, doing everything with a calculated move versus being natural."

After his injury, Votto still hit fastballs well, but where he faltered was when breaking/offspeed stuff was mixed in. Because he could only drive with his hands, his swing motion was thrown off, and he was often way out in front of curveballs and changeups, or buckling on sliders and splitters. His range in the field also suffered.

The weakened knee kept Votto from being himself. It robbed him of his reach, but not of his resourcefulness.

"If you can't make adjustments and be able to step back and look at yourself with some perspective, then I think you're going to be in trouble," Votto said of reacting to his injury.

He was innovative and effective after the setback in 2012, and can continue to be in 2013 even without his full power restored. Votto became a contact hitter upon his return from surgery, posting an average of .343 in September. Any team would take that kind of production, even if it was without the rest of Votto's normal MVP slugging numbers.

"The more effective baseball players find a way to be innovative and figure out ways to solve the problem," Votto said. "It's a new experience for me, I've learned so much along the way."

The question as to whether he's returning to full strength has been answered in Goodyear, Arizona. On one of the very first days of camp, Votto raced to track down a meaningless fly ball in a meaningless drill, putting on the brakes just inches from the fence.

Votto also hit four home runs this spring, one of which physically left the ball park over the back fence off of a hanging curveball from Texas Rangers ace Yu Darvish. As for the rest of his game during Spring Training, check out these numbers: 14 RBI, 11 walks, .346 average, .460 on-base percentage and .673 slugging percentage.

"I feel much better," Votto said at Spring Training. "I think the real test will be playing in games and playing on a consistent basis."

And he looks much better, with his smooth stroke back to where it was in 2012, getting air under his hits and power through his swings.

"I see him Joey-er," Jay Bruce said of Votto. "I see him being one of, if not the best hitters in the game. He has a knack for not getting out, and he's going to continue to not get out, I can almost guarantee you that."

Copyright 2013 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Print this article

Comments

Hmm... It looks like you’re not a WCPO Insider. or Subscribe now to contribute!

More Reds News
Leake's HR leads Reds over Pirates 7-5 for split
Leake's HR leads Reds over Pirates 7-5 for split

Mike Leake doubled and hit a two-run homer Tuesday night, ending Gerrit Cole's winning streak and leading the Cincinnati Reds to a 7-5…

Pirates beat Reds in finish of suspended game
Pirates beat Reds in finish of suspended game

The game that started Monday with 10 home runs ended Tuesday with hardly a whimper.

Cincinnati Reds to honor Jackie Robinson
Cincinnati Reds to honor Jackie Robinson

The Cincinnati Reds will join the rest of the MLB in honoring Jackie Robinson on Tuesday.

Pirates, Reds hit 10 HRs before game suspended
Pirates, Reds hit 10 HRs before game suspended

The players and managers had never seen anything like it - 10 homers - and the game isn't finished yet.

Aroldis Chapman takes big step toward comeback
Aroldis Chapman takes big step toward comeback

"Everything was great," Reds closer Aroldis Chapman said after he threw off a mound for the first time since he was hit in the face…

Reditorial Cartoon: The Billy Hamilton model
Reditorial Cartoon: The Billy Hamilton model

Billy Hamilton finally showed a burst of greatness, but not after a little bit of a warm up. 

Reds win! Offense explodes in 12-4 win over Rays
Reds win! Offense explodes in 12-4 win over Rays

Chris Heisey hit his first grand slam and Devin Mesoraco homered and drove in career high-tying four runs as the…

Reds' Mat Latos has MRI on sore pitching forearm
Reds' Mat Latos has MRI on sore pitching forearm

Reds starter Mat Latos had an MRI on his sore pitching forearm Saturday, a new problem that leaves him unsure of the next step in…

Chapman to throw bullpen session on Monday
Chapman to throw bullpen session on Monday

Reds closer Aroldis Chapman will throw a bullpen session Monday, his first since being struck in the face by a line drive during a Spring…

Reds' bats silenced again in 1-0 loss to Rays
Reds' bats silenced again in 1-0 loss to Rays

Alex Cobb went seven innings on Saturday, extending Tampa Bay's run of solid starting pitching, and James Loney homered for a 1-0 victory…