Cincinnati Reds’ Joey Votto says ‘hitting is easy for me again’

MIAMI – It’s been one year since Joey Votto was benched for three games, probably the first time he sat for performance-related reasons in his career after becoming the Cincinnati Reds’ everyday first baseman in 2008.

That benching turned into the moment where Votto’s resurgent 2021 season began. When he returned to the lineup, he was standing up taller in the batter’s box and looking to do more damage with his swings.

“It sounds kind of jacked up saying this but hitting is easy for me again,” Votto said. “Not that it’s easy, but what I’m saying is at-bat to at-bat, there is more ease to it. Hitting is very challenging. You never get it solved. But I feel like there is a lightness to it. I look forward to my at-bats. I look forward to the next good pitch I’m going to drive in some part of the park. I look forward to batting practice. I look forward to practice work.”

Cincinnati Reds first baseman Joey Votto (19) returns to the dugout in the seventh inning of the MLB National League game between the Cincinnati Reds and Chicago Cubs on Tuesday, Aug. 17, 2021, at Great American Ball Park in downtown Cincinnati.

Votto leads the Major Leagues in homers (17) and RBI (43) since the All-Star break, posting a .287 batting average and .393 on-base percentage. He’s transformed into a guy who could finish in the top-five MVP voting despite missing a month with a broken thumb and a slower start in April.

“I actually feel like had I had an additional three or four months (last year), I’d be exactly where I am right now after the change or not terribly far off from where I am right now,” Votto said. “I’ve got some teammates telling me I can play for a long time, ooh, boy, I don’t want to play for a long time. I know a lot of athletes, they want to play until their 45 or 50 or whatever, some athletes claim, but count me out on that.”

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