Photos Deryck Kissoondath and Brent Duncan.
As the 2009 season wound down for Joey Votto and the Cincinnati Reds, the young first baseman in his first full year with the Reds could breathe a sigh of relief. It has been a very successful 2009 year for Votto. The totals for 2009: In 131 games he finished off with a 0.322 average, 82 runs scored, 151 hits, 38 doubles, 25 home runs, 84 RBI’s, and a slugging average of 0.567. When browsing through the Reds statistics for 2009, Votto’s name is near the top in everything from RBI’s to slugging percentage despite missing 31 games.
The successful year started early for Votto, who was very active against the American contingent at the World Baseball Classic in March. The Toronto native felt that “It was a disappointing game obviously, I really wish we had upset the U.S. in Toronto because it would have been a great moment in Canadian baseball and I was taken back by how good and supportive the Toronto crowd was. I had a fantastic time and aside from my first Major League Baseball game, it was one of my most exciting and monumental games in my career.”
Being in the majors for only his second full year, Votto looked back on last season to remember another special milestone in his rookie year. On May 7th, 2008, he hit three home runs in one game. ” It was a really cool day, it came out of no where. This game is such a challenge and it never gets any easier and a day like that comes around very rarely, and it was such a great day.”
Votto shows much maturity for a player who is only in his second full season at the major league level. His work ethic is very observable when watching both his approach to hitting and defensively fielding balls. Every pitch thrown to him or hit to him on the ground is approached carefully and intently. He feels that “The people that work from Day 1 and concentrate all the way through, stay diligent about themselves and doing their job, usually end on top and obviously there’s some sort of talent and skill involved, but nearly everybody in this league has talent and skill. Usually you have to be mentally stronger and willing to take the failure and bust through it, and move forward, and I’m learning that at the major league level now.”
The process is gradual and Votto has learned over his few years in the majors that “There is something learned, and the better players are usually the students of the game and it never gets easier, it’s always a grind, every single day. The competition always gets better and they always seem to adjust, you have to be willing to adjust and make the necessary changes.”
If learning and teaching go hand in hand then Votto will be a very lucky student with the addition of successful veteran Scott Rolen, to the Reds lineup. Votto felt that “He’s a very special MLB player who has had a special career and he has mounds and mounds of knowledge, and I just try to take that knowledge from him and apply it to my own game.”
This will be a very exciting time for Joey Votto as he is under contract with the Reds until September 2013. It takes a certain amount of pressure off of him knowing that he is the Reds starting first baseman. Votto’s knows what is expected of him and his goals this year have been unselfish and simple. “I expect to be in the majors and I expect to play well. I’m concerned about wins and how I can help my team, and how I can do my job better. If I do my job the right way, then I help create wins for my team.”
Success as both a batter and fielder is evident when perusing the statistics of the Cincinnati Reds and looking up Joey Votto’s name. When asked about the success of the 2009 campaign, Votto replied that “This year has been a very difficult year for me. I’ve had great stretches of success but it’s really a humbling game and you have to be willing to work and improve every single game because it is a long season. I’d like to just become a better ball player next year.”
As in all sports only several teams will make the post-season, and the Reds will not be one of those teams. According to Votto who has certainly without doubt, earned himself a restful off-season, ” I usually take time off because the season is long and draining. I spend time with family and friends. I’d like to take some time off and just relax.”