Votto halts rehab assignment: 'My swing is not there'

April 16th, 2023

CINCINNATI -- Reds first baseman spoke highly of his own progress as he works his way back from major left shoulder surgery. But he isn't going to be ready to return any time soon.

That's why a rehab assignment with Triple-A Louisville was halted on Saturday.

"My swing is not there yet," Votto said Sunday. "There’s some strength and range of motion stuff. It’s totally normal. I feel so much better. Relative to the beginning of spring, a month ago, three months ago, I think I’m doing excellent. It was ambitious to attempt to make Opening Day. I didn’t perform well in Louisville and that was [because] I was missing middle pitches, and that was entirely because of my arm."

Votto, who had surgery in August to repair tears in his rotator cuff and biceps in his left shoulder, was batting .184 (7-for-38) with one home run, five RBIs, six walks and 21 strikeouts.

The 20-day rehab assignment was due to end on April 20. Under the rules, Votto must wait at least five days before he can resume playing games for Louisville. He and the club would then be permitted to restart the clock for a new 20-day rehab assignment.

"He's trying to get that extension, he's trying to get that strength back in his shoulder, he's progressing in the right way. He's just not where he needs to be right now," Reds general manager Nick Krall said.

The short-term plan for Votto is for him to work out with the Reds during the remainder of the homestand that runs through Wednesday before determining his next step. On Sunday morning, he took ground balls at first base and batting practice with the team.

A long-term plan and timetable for Votto remains unknown.

"It's a little embarrassing interrupting a [rehab] stint and pausing it, but it's not a reflection on whether or not I'm getting better or whether or not I'll play well in a Reds uniform," Votto said. "Those are two separate things."

Votto, 39, is coming off the worst offensive year of his storied Major League career. Over 91 games in 2022, he batted .205 with a .689 OPS, 11 home runs and 41 RBIs.

"I'm going to get healthy and then come back and play well. I'm very confident of that," Votto said. "I'd be surprised if I didn't play well. I'd be surprised if I didn't get to full health and play well. I know it's in me."