How Votto is staying busy during injury rehab

September 21st, 2022

This story was excerpted from Mark Sheldon’s Reds Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

When the most difficult season of Joey Votto’s career ended with shoulder surgery on Aug. 19, the Reds' first baseman wasn’t content with being idle while missing his club’s final 46 games.

Votto mentioned a desire to try broadcasting work with the Reds' television and radio teams, and both groups were happy to have him on board.

Following a recent game that he called on TV with John Sadak and Barry Larkin on Bally Sports Ohio, I spoke with Votto about scratching his broadcasting itch. You’ve done this for a few games now. How do you think it’s going?

Votto: I do it because I can’t just sit at home alone, and rehab can be a bit tedious at times. Sitting in the clubhouse is fine, but I want to stay out of the way. I’ve been asked in the past to do broadcasts, or at least maybe do playoffs. I either passed or just wasn’t available. I figured I would try it. I feel like there’s a lot to learn. It’s a lot harder than what’s given credit. The amount of research one has to do to be able to speak on so many different players and so many different organizations -- because there is always a new matchup -- I find it really challenging. I have the experience side, which is nice, but it’s limited. I play first base. I am a left-handed hitter. I don’t pitch. I don’t catch. Those are probably the people that I don’t know how to speak well on. It’s a fun experience in some ways. It requires a great deal of concentration. I do find it challenging. More challenging than you expected? Now that you’ve seen what John, Barry and others do, do you have a different perspective?

Votto: I don’t think I ever assumed that it’s an easy job. I think the most difficult part is being able to efficiently reply or interject, but with real accurate information. I don’t worry about anybody but myself really when it comes to my player job. I have to perform and concentrate on my game and be a good teammate. But this, you have to know the history of players. You have to have context when you describe the player you’re speaking about. On top of that, you also have to speak about situations and historical context of the games. I just find it challenging. The people that speak well on a variety of subjects and players, kudos to them. When retired players work as analysts, they can speak with a critical eye on the team. Are you able to do that as a teammate of the players you’re broadcasting about?

Votto: I haven’t done any criticizing. I have been trying to speak supportively or neutrally. I have a clear bias in support of my teammates and support of my team. I don’t go that route. I do feel at times that if I did the job, there would be times that I might comment on things. I may not even go that route. I’m not sure. How did you like dabbling in calling play-by-play?

Votto: Now that is hard. That’s where the research [is needed]. You have to know almost every player, the team, how they fit in, the rest of the league like the back of your hand. And slip in advertising reads, too.

Votto: That’s fine. I don’t think I would find that part too difficult. But all the homework you have to do to speak on situations, players and teams, and the league in general -- you have to be a genuine fan of the game. I know you’re not thinking about retirement yet, but is this a career you might want to explore doing full-time when you’re done playing?

Votto: I don’t know. I don’t even want to think about after my career. I want to play and perform and compete. I don’t miss playing poorly, but I do miss playing well. That’s all that’s on my mind. I want to see how long I can do that for. How is the early stage of rehab going on your shoulder?

Votto: Excellent. I’m really happy with the progress. It’s going to take time, and I’m going to give myself the time to make sure I do it correctly. It’s been fun seeing improvement and seeing the work pay off. You have to stay on it. You have to have faith in the physical therapists. You have to obviously have faith that the surgeon not only did a great job, but also trust the doctor’s guidance. I feel like I’m in really good hands.