Joey Votto homers in return to Cincinnati Reds after almost year-long rehab stint

Rockies Reds Baseball
Posted at 2:08 PM, Jun 17, 2023

CINCINNATI — Joey Votto hit a home run in his return to the Cincinnati Reds lineup Monday night, his first appearance for the club this season.

Votto was sixth in the lineup and played first base as the Reds faced off against the Colorado Rockies. In his second at-bat of the night, Votto hit a no-doubter to extend Cincinnati's lead to 3-1. The 17-year veteran got a curtain call, where he tipped the team's Viking helmet.

That wasn't all he did.

Votto knocked in two runs one inning later, bringing in the game-winning run. Cincinnati has won nine straight.

The Reds announced pitcher Hunter Greene is going to the 15-day IL with "right hip pain" retroactive to Sunday. Pitcher Kevin Herget was designated for assignment.

The longtime Reds first baseman said at a press conference announcing his return on Monday that he is finally at a point where health is not a concern when he plays the game, and that's how he knew he was ready to be back in the big leagues.

Votto spoke about the excitement around the team's success, and that he was proud to be returning to such a talented roster that he had to be a "value add" for a team with a real shot at the playoffs.

Votto posted a video to his Instagram page shortly after the press conference announcing his return of him in a red suit and a cowboy hat, dragging a bat in the Reds dugout and then out on the field of Great American Ball Park with a caption that read "I am back."

Before that video, Votto teased returning to the team over the weekend with a video captioned "I guess I better get back to ball, huh?"

The video shows a skit where Votto is a bus driver and a young girl about to enter the bus says "why aren't you playing?" and "come back and play" before Votto replies "okay, you're right, I will."

Votto previously had posted two other bus-related images where he captioned he was making stops in Louisville and Columbus.

He thanked people who helped him "get to this point," which included medical professionals and the Bats organization.

Votto underwent surgery on Aug. 19, which ended his 2022 season. At the time, Votto refused to use his long-injured shoulder as an excuse for performance; but said it was difficult to lift and even painful to sleep.

Now, in the final year of his contract — there is a team option for 2024 — the eldest and highest-paid player on the Reds roster has played 20 games with the Bats this season. In 71 at-bats, he has hit .183 with a .348 on base percentage and three home runs.

Just this week, Votto said he was "feeling great."

He has said despite not being with the MLB team, he's been keeping up with the Reds and the progress of the younger players, specifically rookie standout Elly De La Cruz.

The 2023 season marks Votto's 17th with the Cincinnati Reds, and in recent years, Votto has openly spoken about a more relaxed, fun approach to the sport and his demeanor.

Votto's return comes at a time when the Reds are the hottest team in baseball on the backs of many of their young prospects. They've won 8 in a row and are just a half game out of first place in the NL Central.

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