When is Votto going to return? Very soon, he hints on Instagram

June 18th, 2023

HOUSTON – With an Instagram video he posted Saturday of himself driving a bus, seemingly back to Cincinnati, hinted that his rehab assignment with Triple-A Louisville was near its end. On Sunday, Votto posted a more serious message that clearly states he's ready to return to the Reds.

Noting that Monday would be exactly 10 months since his Aug. 19 left shoulder surgery that repaired his torn rotator cuff and biceps, Votto thanked numerous people during his journey to return. He showed appreciation to his surgeons, physical therapists, trainers and teammates.

“My time in Louisville has been excellent," Votto said on Instagram from the Louisville clubhouse. "I’m grateful, grateful for my teammates. Grateful, grateful for my time here. Everyone has been welcoming. Thank you. I can’t wait to get back to Cincinnati. I miss y’all, and I hope to see you soon.”

No official roster move has been announced as of Sunday afternoon by the Reds, who open a three-game series vs. the Rockies on Monday at Great American Ball Park.

Votto, 39, batted .167 with two home runs, a double and five RBIs in 12 games with Louisville during his second rehab assignment. He exited Sunday's game vs. St. Paul after he was 0-for-1 with a walk in two plate appearances.

The reports from his games have been positive, and Votto himself noted before departing for Louisville that he had more range of motion and less discomfort in his shoulder than he experienced during the first rehab assignment that was aborted on April 15.

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.

The Reds have been adding players back to their roster in recent days. Utility player returned from the injured list on Friday, and outfielder was activated on Sunday.

But having Votto, a veteran team leader and one of the few players in the clubhouse with postseason experience while playing for the Reds, is welcomed. Cincinnati is riding an eight-game winning streak after Sunday's 9-7 win over the Astros in 10 innings and is riding high with a club full of younger players.

“It’s incredible. It just keeps getting better," Fraley said. "Another guy who understands and has been a part of that culture aspect and building that. To be able to have a guy like that with his presence in the clubhouse is just going to make things even better.”