Joey Votto says he believes this Reds team 'will be in a much better place' after abysmal 2022 season

Joey Votto
Posted at 12:23 AM, Feb 24, 2023
and last updated 2023-02-24 00:23:09-05

GOODYEAR, Ariz. — Reds first baseman Joey Votto said he's feeling good months removed from season-ending surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff.

"I feel like I'm making good progress," Votto said in an interview with WCPO's Marshall Kramsky. "Every day, I'm taking one step closer to getting back in uniform, playing games, competing."

The six-time All-Star struggled before surgery, posting the worst batting average of his major league career, hitting just .205 with 41 runs batted in through 91 games. Votto said the season was tough on him.

"I've felt immense relief since the surgery," Votto said. "I didn't realize how jacked up my arm and shoulder was at the time. And before, it was a real struggle because I didn't feel like I could compete, perform, do the things I was used to doing and it was nice to know it wasn't my performance, I had some limitations."

As he participates in spring training, Votto said he's looking forward to building new relationships as he sees fewer familiar faces in Arizona.

"There's been some real transitioning over the last three of four years or so," Votto said. "I've had a lot of teammates that I got along well with and that I had jokes with, but it's a new crop that I can build ... new friendships with and hopefully long-term bond and, most importantly, great moments in a Reds uniform."

The 39-year-old said working with the younger generation is different than those he played with when he debuted in 2007.

"Twenty years or so ago, the culture was firm (feedback) — we're gonna tell you, we're gonna hammer you and you don't get to say anything in reply," Votto said. "Whereas now, I feel like the younger generation has a lot to say, and that can be a good thing because people have very wise things, smart things to say."

Votto said his style can be a bit more stoic, but he's learned to soften over the last few years (which TikTok users might have noticed). He said surrounding himself with younger energy is "important."

"I think there's a sweet spot between (the different generations' ways)," Votto said. "Experience, you can't replicate, you can't teach ... my intention is to guide with that experience, but that doesn't mean that I can't take feedback from players that come from a different perspective."

He said he hasn't gotten to spend enough time with the newer players, but there is talent on this Reds roster. Last year's team struggled to start the season, causing fans and players to lose hope. This year, starting off well is obviously important.

"It's difficult to offer hope to a fanbase when you start from so far behind — not only a fanbase, but also inside of the clubhouse," Votto said. "It's difficult, it's really difficult to come back from that — just the math to get back to .500 we have to win 19 in a row, it's bananas, right?"

Votto said he believes that while this team will also feature a lot of younger talent, they'll perform better than they have recently.

"Again, a younger group ... (but) we will be in a much better place than in previous years," Votto said.

The Reds kick off the 2023 season at home against the Pittsburgh Pirates Thursday, March 30 at 4:10 p.m.