Votto speaks out on Reds' slow start

May 15th, 2018

SAN FRANCISCO -- Reds first baseman Joey Votto had never participated in a podcast interview before he did one on Friday in Los Angeles with Yahoo Sports. Amid numerous subjects, Votto was very candid and provided honest answers -- including when he was asked about Cincinnati's disappointing start to the 2018 season.

"Not often does a player get to speak the way I'm speaking right now, because my role is to do my job on the field and pretty much zip my lips, which makes sense," Votto told interviewer Tim Brown. "But in the same breath, I've been with this franchise for, I think, 17 years now. You can say things are business, but to honest with you, I was a kid when I signed with this franchise; I take it personally. This is a personal thing to me. People inside of the organization, in all likelihood, are not going to enjoy my responses. But it's been disappointing."

Votto's interview was conducted in the midst of the Reds' recent six-game winning streak that was snapped on Monday vs. the Giants. Yet, even after nearly doubling their win total with a pair of wins over the Mets and a four-game sweep of the Dodgers, the Reds entered Tuesday 11 games back of first place in the National League Central. Their 3-18 start was the worst in franchise history.

"I genuinely hope that we're trending in the right direction, but this is the worst start I've ever seen," Votto said. "There are so many people that are losing interest in our organization, and deservedly so. It hasn't been a fun time to be a Cincinnati Reds fan."

The podcast dropped Tuesday morning, and the comments Votto made about losing created some national news.

On Tuesday afternoon at AT&T Park, Votto didn't regret the content of what was said, but he felt bad for drawing negative attention to himself and the Reds.

"I never want to be apologetic for anything I say," Votto said. "But, I think I may have been a bit overzealous with some of the things I said because I feel at the time we weren't playing very well, and I was frustrated. Ultimately, I want what's very best for the organization -- everyone throughout.

"I miss the days of playing really good quality baseball. I don't know what to say. I've been with the franchise for a long time now. More often than not, I bite my tongue. Probably, I went a little too far with some of the things I said, just out of frustration."

Votto, 34, has consistently been the Reds' best player since debuting in 2007. He was the 2010 NL Most Valuable Player and nearly won a second MVP Award last season. He also experienced playing for contending Cincinnati teams that won division titles in 2010 and '12 and reached the NL Wild Card Game in '13.

However, the Reds have largely been in rebuilding mode since and have endured four straight losing seasons -- including 94 or more losses in the last three seasons.

"I made it personal when it probably shouldn't have been. But, again, I can't help it," Votto said. "I think people do things and say things emotionally when they make it personal. I'm going to do my best going forward to stick to playing ball and doing my job, do my part and make sure the things I say going forward are productive and help us move in the right direction."

Votto said he has not received any feedback from the Reds' front office.

"But most importantly, I knew I overstepped my bounds," Votto said. "I think that's something that I haven't done much in my career, so it stood out to me. Even if someone up top said something to me, I think I would have acknowledged and said, 'Yeah, you're right. I need to do my job.' I feel pretty strongly about that."

Votto has five years left on his 10-year contract at $25 million per season, with a $20 million team option or $7 million buyout for 2024. His contract includes a full no-trade clause, and he has again showed no desire to be dealt.

"I'm proud to wear a Reds uniform, and I look forward to doing that until the last day of my Major League Baseball career," Votto said.