'Feeling really good,' Votto set to restart rehab assignment

June 2nd, 2023

CINCINNATI -- Feeling that his surgically repaired left shoulder is more physically ready than it was in his first attempt to play, Reds first baseman is headed back to Triple-A Louisville to begin a new rehab assignment on Saturday.

Votto was with the Reds on their six-game road trip to Chicago and Boston taking live batting practice from coaches. He's also spent time taking live BP against pitchers at Louisville and at Great American Ball Park.

“I’ve just been feeling really good with the live work," Votto said on Friday afternoon. "At some point, you’ve got to come back and help the team. It’s good. I’m excited to be back. I’ve missed playing with the guys. Going on the road, I was able to work with our bullpen arms that throw. I was able to continue hanging out with the guys staying in the flow of in-season competition."

Votto has been working his way back since his Aug. 19 left shoulder surgery that repaired tears in his rotator cuff and biceps.

The rehab assignment can last up to 20 days, but there is no timeline for how long Votto will be with Louisville before a decision is made for him to be activated from the 60-day injured list.

Votto, 39, hasn't played in games with Louisville since his rehab assignment was halted on April 15 after he batted .184 (7-for-38) with one home run, five RBIs, six walks and 21 strikeouts across 10 games after spending Spring Training trying to get ready to be on Cincinnati's Opening Day roster.

There were no regrets after trying the first rehab assignment.

“No, no, no, no. That was right in line with, ‘Let’s try.’ It was almost like no harm, no foul," Votto said. "There were occasions [when] someone would throw the ball to me and I got out of the way. As a defender, you have to get in there, stick your nose in there and make a play. My instinct was to get out of the way because I was incapable of actually catching the ball with my arm. As far as offensively, I was fighting for sure in there. But at no point was I ever competitive, like a legitimate threat."

In the final guaranteed year of his 10-year, $225 million contract, Votto has a $20 million club option for 2024 that carries a $7 million buyout. With his shoulder significantly bothering him, the 2022 season was the worst of his career as he batted .205 with a .689 OPS and 11 home runs in 91 games.

Votto, who has enjoyed watching the way his team has played without him,  was confident his play with Louisville would be better for him physically this time around compared to the previous try. 

"When I went down on my first rehab, I just felt nothing like myself," he said. "I felt weak. I felt sore all the time. I wasn’t strong at all. I lacked everything I needed to perform on a consistent basis. With the past roughly six weeks of rehab, live work, steady work, I feel like I’m in a place to begin the rehab [assignment]. I look forward to getting ready and joining the team.”