Votto, who did not appear in either game of Thursday’s doubleheader against the Brewers in Milwaukee, came into Friday hitless in 18 consecutive at-bats -- one shy of his career high.
“My tone may sound frustrated, but I'm responsible for that,” Votto said. “We're in the performance business, we're in it to win. I've been a part of too many losses, and I need to be better for sure. It's a new experience for me. I've played poorly before.”
During his last game -- Tuesday’s 3-2 loss to the Brewers -- Votto struck out four times and was ejected for arguing balls and strikes in the eighth inning. Overall, he’s struck out 14 times in 106 plate appearances, and he had 38 plate appearances between his first strikeout of the season and his second.
In 25 games, Votto is batting .191/.321/.326 with three home runs and eight RBIs.
“I can't become a completely different player, I have to be true to myself, but I clearly have to make adjustments,” Votto said. “I don't feel beat by this. I feel frustrated, of course. I'm bummed that we're about 100 plate appearances, 30 games through. It's frustrating getting judged by that.”
Although manager David Bell sought input from others, the decision to bench the veteran was his alone.
“The purpose of this was to in no way move him out of the lineup,” Bell said. “It was to reintegrate him back into the lineup, because I believe very much that he is part of our best lineup and part of our best team. He knows himself extremely well, better than anyone that I know, and he believes he needs to play through this. I am not to say he’s not right, but I also have to make a decision based on what I was seeing. I have to trust what I believe is right for him.”
It wasn’t an easy to sit the longest-tenured Reds player and the 2010 National League Most Valuable Player Award winner, who will turn 37 on Sept. 10.
“I think what makes it difficult is, No. 1, I have so much respect for Joey,” Bell said. “He’s accomplished so much. He’s so talented. He has so much ability. He’s also an extremely hard worker. All those things have added to the great player. Really, what also makes him great is he competes as well or better than anyone than I have ever been around. He’s always going to have that.”
Bell expected Votto to be in the lineup during Saturday’s doubleheader vs. the Cubs -- most likely in Game 1.
“It's one of those seasons,” Votto said. “This is why I didn't go to college. Because I knew I was going to play terrible in a 50- or 60-game season, because I'm not built like that. I've never been built like that.
“I'm missing middle pitches. I'm missing middle fastballs. That's unsustainable. That's not something that any hitter can do. I'm getting pitches to hit, I'm missing them.”
Miley to IL
Reds left-handed starter Wade Miley went on the 10-day injured list Friday with a left shoulder strain. It was a little surprising, considering Miley pitched four scoreless innings and allowed just one hit in Cincinnati's 6-0 win over the Brewers in Game 2 on Thursday. But he felt some discomfort in the final frame while throwing a cutter to Keston Hiura.
“We had made a mutual decision on coming out of the game, and then I had a little tightness there,” Miley said. “Woke up this morning and it was still there, maybe a little magnified. We decided to get an image, and it showed a little strain in my cuff. Hopefully, it’s nothing serious and I can just strengthen it up a little bit an be back and ready to roll in 10 days."
The Reds made many other roster moves on Thursday. Starting pitcher Anthony DeSclafani was activated from the paternity list and right-handed pitcher José De León was called up from the alternate training site at Prasco Park. Right-handed pitcher Jay Jackson was signed to a Minor League deal and added to the player pool.
Outfielder Phillip Ervin, who had a breakout 2019 season, was designated for assignment. Ervin was batting .086 in 19 games, and he lost much of his playing time as Jesse Winker got hot against both righties and lefties.
“It was a tough roster move we had to make,” Bell said “We’ll see how it turns out. It could turn out that he ends up in our organization. I really believe he’ll get another opportunity in the Major Leagues to do that again, whether that’s with us or another team.”
Reds acquire righty O'Brien
The Reds traded left-handed reliever Cody Reed to the Rays on Friday night for right-handed pitcher Riley O'Brien, who was added to the 60-man player pool and will report to the alternate training site.
O’Brien, 25, was Tampa Bay’s No. 20 prospect according to MLB Pipeline. Last season in 20 games (17 starts) between Class A Advanced Charlotte and Double-A Montgomery, he went 7-6 with a 3.16 ERA and a 1.17 WHIP over 102 2/3 innings. Reed was designated for assignment by Cincinnati on Monday.