TORONTO — The Cincinnati Reds activated Canadian slugger Joey Votto off the injured list before Friday’s game in Toronto against the Blue Jays.
A six-time All-Star in 16 seasons, Votto hasn’t played a lot in front of the local fans — only nine games at Rogers Centre, during which he’s hit three home runs while going 8 for 33 (.242) with seven RBIs.
Votto grew up in Toronto, cheering the Blue Jays to back-to-back World Series wins in 1992 and 1993.
“I’m the most excited here,” Votto said. “It just gives me goosebumps. I lose sleep over it.”
Votto was in the lineup in the cleanup spot Friday against Blue Jays left-hander Hyun Jin Ryu.
Votto is off to a tough start. He’s hitting a meager .122 with no home runs and three RBIs in 22 games, and struck out 29 times in 74 at-bats.
“I’ve performed poorly to start the season so I am way stoked to right that wrong,” Votto said. “I have very few poor stretches in my career and I’ve always corrected them. This is another opportunity for me.”
Votto hasn’t played since May 1. He was sidelined with COVID-19 two days later.
“It’s really great to have him back, for a lot of reasons,” Reds manager David Bell said. “I’m excited to see where he is with his progression. I know he was in the midst of making some adjustments right when he got sick. I imagine the rehab assignment gave him a little time to work through that.”
Votto went 1 for 7 with a walk in two games in a rehab assignment with Class A Dayton this week.
Also Friday, the Reds put left-hander Ross Detwiler on the bereavement list and placed infielder Brandon Drury, outfielder Albert Almora, right-hander Joel Kuhnel and right-hander Tyler Mahle on the restricted list.
To enter the country, the Canadian government requires a person to have received a second COVID-19 vaccine dose — or one dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine — at least 14 days before entry.
Unvaccinated players go on the restricted list because they are not paid and do not accrue major league service time, according to a March agreement between Major League Baseball and the players’ association.
The Reds selected outfielder Aristides Aquino, infielder Taylor Motter and right-hander Graham Ashcraft as substitute players. All three were previously with Triple-A Louisville.
Shortstop José Barrero (left hand surgery) began a rehab assignment with Louisville Friday.
Mahle pitched 6 1/3 innings as the Reds won 4-2 at Cleveland on Thursday, a game that was pushed back after being rained out Wednesday. The Reds said Mahle was required to go on the restricted list but could not be replaced on the roster for Cincinnati’s trip to Toronto because he had pitched at least four consecutive innings within the three days prior to the series in Canada.
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