ST. LOUIS – Joey Votto had some comments circulate through St. Louis after the Cincinnati Reds swept the Cardinals at Busch Stadium in June.
Votto didn’t play in that four-game series, completing his rehab assignment at Triple-A Louisville, but he spoke the following day when he was activated from the injured list. Votto, smiling, said “we had some (trash)-talking (expletives) in St. Louis after the first series sweep and it’s nice to go on the road, at their ballpark, and let them have it.”
In Votto’s first trip back to Busch Stadium, he said he regretted saying that because it wasn’t directed toward Cardinals fans.
“I was quoted speaking very vaguely about someone here in St. Louis,” Votto said Friday. “I didn't elaborate. There was someone behind the scenes and I certainly won't mention who or what, but I just want to make it clear that what I said was absolutely not a commentary on the Cardinals fans or anybody at all here in St. Louis.”
The Reds were swept in their first three-game series in St. Louis in April. After the Reds swept the four-game series in June, Votto said, “We had some people sweeping brooms and (stuff) like that when we were leaving, so how’d you like that? How’d you like that?”
With Friday’s 4-2 victory, the Reds have won five straight games at Busch Stadium and captured their first season series victory against the Cardinals since 2011.
“I'm very fond of coming to St. Louis,” Votto said. “I think you would all know, I'd be completely honest if I was not happy with something. I just hope that the people here don't think that I was speaking about them. It was something very much behind the scenes in terms of preparation for our games. But stuff like that happens.
“I am regretful of saying those words and putting that out there because that's not really what I wanted to share. Forgive the vagueness, but I think you guys can fill in the gaps. The people in St. Louis have been great to me. Fans have been great. What I said had absolutely nothing to do with them. I know it got a lot of run, a lot of people spoke on it or wrote about it or commented on it. I should've elaborated more because it had nothing to do with anything in the St. Louis stands.”
BRINGING UP BARRERO: The Reds’ coaching staff was confident Jose Barrero wouldn’t be hindered by struggling in the Major Leagues last year.
With Freddy Galvis struggling at shortstop, the Reds made Barrero their starting shortstop in Aug. 2020 without an at-bat at Double-A or Triple-A in the pandemic-shortened season. Barrero proved he was big-league ready defensively, but he struggled mightily at the plate.
“This season, being in a position where we didn't have to force him to be here and to start in Double-A and then go to Triple-A, and really have a full year was definitely the right decision,” Bell said. “I think it shows in his at-bats, it shows in the way he carries himself on the field already. I do. I think he's more prepared now. Last year's experience was still a good one. He's right on track.”
Barrero impressed minor league coaches by the way he handled the decision to start him in Double-A. He views himself as a big leaguer, but he set out to prove himself.
“He knew his time was going to come,” Bell said. “He handled it like a true professional. He's still very young. Impressive guy. We're lucky to have him.”
WINKER UPDATE: Jesse Winker hit on the field in Louisville, which Bell called “a big step,” in his recovery from an intercostal strain.
Winker could be nearing the start of a rehab assignment. He’s been out since Aug. 15. The Reds have scored exactly one run in nine of their 13 losses without Winker in the lineup.
“(Saturday) will be an important day,” Bell said. “If he responds and recovers well, he should be getting really close.”
JOTTINGS: Mychal Givens struck out Yadier Molina on three pitches in the ninth inning Friday, their first at-bat against each other. "I always look up to him being Puerto Rican," Givens said. "A great leader and a great person for baseball.” ... Tyler Mahle completed six innings in 96 pitches Friday. Bell confirmed Mahle would've returned for the seventh inning if his spot didn't come up in the batting order. Lucas Sims, the first reliever out of the bullpen, struck out all three batters he faced. ... Eugenio Suárez's 452-foot homer in the second inning Friday was the longest by any visiting player at Busch Stadium this year.