Joey Votto motivation at end of career with Cincinnati Reds

When Joey Votto spoke to reporters at the end of the 2019 season, the worst offensive season of his career, he called it an eye-opening experience.

He didn’t think he’d enjoy being a player who was playing out the end of his contract as a part-time player in favorable matchups. It was a frustrating experience, and he still demanded excellence from himself.

Votto, now 37 years old, has played a big part in the Reds’ offensive success over the past month. His overall numbers still haven’t rebounded from a slow start, entering Sunday with a .258 batting average and .338 on-base percentage, but he’s reached base in 19 of his last 22 games. That stretch includes nine multi-hit games.

More:Joey Votto's defense leads the Cincinnati Reds back to second place in the NL Central

“I spend most of my time thinking about – whether I am making the minimum or a big number, salary-wise – how can I be competitive as long as I have an opportunity to play,” Votto said. “I have been very fortunate to see some clearly excellent players play well to the very end of their career where they opted not to play anymore.”

Joey Votto acknowledges the fans after an on-field interview Friday night. Votto helped seal the win over the Cubs with a two-RBI double.

Votto named several veteran players Adrian Beltre, Torii Hunter, David Ortiz, Chipper Jones and Derek Jeter who were starters at the end of their career. Ortiz led the league in several offensive categories in his final season. Jones was an All-Star in his final year.

More:Joey Votto delivers as the Cincinnati Reds get a big win over the Chicago Cubs

“Those are the players I admire most,” Votto said. “I know that one day I won’t be good enough to play baseball anymore. But as long as I have an opportunity to, I want to keep fighting. I look up to those players, among others, and try to emulate that. That’s what gives me the greatest joy and that is my current challenge.”

Votto’s goal is to remain an everyday starter, bat in the middle of the lineup and play solid defense at first base. Since returning from the injured list on June 8, Votto is slashing .298/.379/.548 with six homers, 20 RBI and 15 runs in 24 games, entering Sunday’s series finale against the Chicago Cubs.

Cincinnati Reds first baseman Joey Votto (19) reacts toward the fans after the team turned an inning-ending double play during the seventh inning of a baseball game against the Chicago Cubs, Saturday, July 3, 2021, at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati.

He’s homered in three of the team’s last six games. He delivered a go-ahead, two-run double in the Reds’ 2-1 victory against the Cubs on Friday, which notably was against left-handed reliever Adam Morgan.

Votto has mentioned about how he needs to hit well against lefties, so what did it mean to contribute a game-winning hit against a lefty?

More:'Not good enough': Cincinnati Reds enter second half of the season with 41-40 record

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