Shi Davidi Q & A with Cincinnati Reds 1B Joey Votto By Shi Davidi
Joey Votto won’t let himself get too excited about his rookie year in the majors.
Yes, he put up solid numbers, and, true, he established himself as a key piece moving forward for the retooling Cincinnati Reds. But the first baseman from Toronto, despite being just 25, is also moving into more of leadership role this season and he understands that you can’t be happy with very much when your team goes 74-88.
So that’s why he isn’t particularly satisfied with batting .297 with 24 homers and 84 RBIs in 151 games and finishing second to Cubs catcher Geovany Soto in National League Rookie of the Year voting.
There’s still plenty more for him to achieve, starting with playing for Canada at the World Baseball Classic in March. The Canadian Baseball Network caught up with Votto at Baseball Canada’s annual awards banquet for a quick chat about his rookie season, taking on more of a leadership role and the possibility of playing left field at the WBC:
CBN: You obviously had a strong rookie season in the majors. Are the numbers about what you expected? JV: “Yeah. That’s not necessarily what I expected but anything less and I would have been disappointed. I wanted to give Geovany a run for his rookie of the year money and play good baseball.”
CBN: So overall you were pleased with how things went? JV: “To be honest with you, we had a losing year, it was a disappointing year and I feel like I’m slowly becoming a more important part of the team, I have to take some responsibility and just think about wins and losses and getting our team into the playoffs.”
CBN: You mentioned becoming a more important part of the team. Do you feel the departures of Ken Griffey Jr., and Adam Dunn leave a bit of a leadership hole you need to help fill? JV: “I think so. Whenever you take a Ken Griffey Jr. or an Adam Dunn out of the equation, usually the leadership role is deferred to the next level of player. I’m not saying that’s myself, but there’s some guys on the team that can certainly take over that spot. I think Brandon Phillips is an example of that.”
CBN: What parts of your performance at the plate last year were you most pleased with, and what areas do you think you need to work on? JV: “I was happy I finished off strong and I’m glad I finished off with the batting average I did. But I felt I was a little undisciplined throughout the year and at times, I let certain things get over my head. The baseball season is so long, it’s such a marathon, that you can go through a week-long stretch where you’re missing certain opportunities. Looking back now, I realize there were opportunities and I look to make the adjustment next year.”
CBN: Even though you were a September call up in 2007, did you find the extra month of play in the majors to be an especially tough grind to get through? JV: “That’s a good question because a lot of the minor-league players don’t realize how tiresome that last month can be. I saw it first-hand, I was worn out, I was tired, but that’s part of the season, and staying in shape, eating well and resting is really important for any player.”
CBN: On a different note, playing time at the World Baseball Classic may be tough to come by with Justin Morneau at first base. You’ve played some left field in the past, how comfortable are you out there? JV: “I’ve played minimal right field, played some left field and played it for a few games when I finally got called up. I spent no time in left field last year. Am I comfortable out there? Yes and no. It’s something that I need to work at and it’s something that’s new to me. If I went out there and played right now I’d definitely be able to keep my head above the water.”
CBN: So if manager Ernie Whitt penciled you in at left field you’re ready? JV: “I’ll do my best, I’d run into walls for my country. I’d do the very best I could, I’d get in as much work as I can during the first little training time that we’ve got, but that’s totally up to the coaches and the Team Canada management. If they ask me to do that, I’ll do my best.”
CBN: Finally, what are you most looking forward to at the World Baseball Classic? JV: “The biggest thing for me is that it’s starting off in Toronto. I grew up down Lakeshore and it just means a lot to be able to play in front of your friends and family and play at the stadium you always dreamed about playing at. Especially against USA, I really hope we have a packed stadium and a lot of red and a lot of Canadian flags everywhere.”
WBC-ING YOU SOON: The World Baseball Classic dates at the Rogers Centre Game 1, Saturday, March 7 -- Team Canada vs. Team USA, 2 p.m. Game 2, Saturday, March 7 -- Italy vs. Venezuela, 8 p.m. Game 3, Sunday, March 8 -- Winner Game 1 vs. Winner Game 2, 8 p.m. Game 4, Monday, March 9 -- Loser Game 1 vs. Loser Game 2, 6:30 p.m. Game 5, Tuesday, March 10 -- Loser Game 3 vs. Winner Game 4 5 p.m. Game 6, Wednesday, March 11 -- Winner Game 3 vs. Winner Game 5 6:30 p.m. (Losers of Game 4 and Game 5 are eliminated.) (Game 6 will decide first and second-place placings for the second round.) IN YER FACE: The Canadian Baseball Network facebook group is up and running ... and running fast: Mike Nitsos (Whitby, Ont.) of the Iowa Western Reivers, is the 400th to join. Grant Kveder (Lethbridge, Alta.) of the Gonzaga Stags is No. 500. Dan Chappel (Edmonton, Alta.) formerly of the Longview Lakers, the Mayville State Comets, the Southwest Mustangs, the Schaumburg Flyers and the Edmonton Cracker Cats is No. 600. Drew Parker (Surrey, BC) of West Florida, formerly of the JUCO World Series champion Chipola Indians, is No. 700. Andrew Brock (Burnaby, BC) of the Idaho Coyotes is No. 800. Derek Papp (Windsor, Ont.), who used to pitch for Judson, is No. 900. Jonathan Lussier (Montreal, Que.), former C-DH with the Les Ailes du Quebec alongside Phillipe Alexandre Valiquette (St. Laurent, Que.), Alexandre Periard (St. Eustache, Que.) and Mathieu Poirier (Montreal, Que.) is No. 1,000. Ben Tinklin (Kitchener, Ont.) of the Canadian Thunderbirds is No. 1,100. -- With files from Bob Elliott
EXTRA, EXTRA: Since you asked ... we have a recap of the previous blogs: Brett Lawrie, first rounder, of the Brewers. EXTRA BASES 1 -- First week of the nationals. EXTRA BASES II -- Second week of the nationals. EXTRA BASES III -- Results from the third week of the nationals. EXTRA BASES IV -- The best 15-16-year-olds from Canada gather at the Rogers Centre for the annual Mizunio Camp. EXTRA BASES V -- Checking in on the National Junior Team in Florida. EXTRA BASES VI -- Dropping in on the Cincinnati Reds instructional camp in Sarasota, more Canucks on the roster than anyone else. EXTRA BASES VII -- Letters of Intent list of Canadians committed to college. EXTRA BASES VIII -- WBC SS job goes to Chris Barnwell, Jay Johnson pops at the PBA. EXTRA BASES VIX -- Baseball Ontario and Baseball Canada's best hear from former Expos ace Steve Rogers. EXTRA BASES X -- Past All-Canadian team members to go on to the pro ranks EXTRA BASES XI -- Alexandre Periard (Brewers) Chris Leroux (Marlins) promoted to 40-man rosters. EXTRA BASES XII -- R.I.P. Tommy Burgess, former MLB player, National Team coach EXTRA BASES XIII -- R.I.P. Jim Ridley, former minor-league pro, Intercounty MVP, scout and national team coach. Our all-time hit leader. EXTRA BASES XIV -- 2008 All-Canadian College Team with links to 2000-07 teams. EXTRA BASES XV -- Dany Wood is Canuck born, Jim Lutton and Howie Birnie -- Fab 50s, Baseball Canada banquet, BA top prospects EXTRA BASES XVI -- Justin Morneau, Ernie Whitt to Lead Team Canada in WBC, Tip O'Neill award to Morneau, All-American honours to Shane Davis, Garret Regan EXTRA BASES XVII -- Zak Miller, Brett Van Pelt turn in skates for scholarships EXTRA BASES XVIII -- The top 100 Most Influential Canadians in baseball EXTRA BASES XVIX -- Team Canada's WBC roster and more EXTRA BASES XX -- Don Campbell wins Volunteer award in Ottawa EXTRA BASES XXI -- Larry Walker first named to Baseball Canada Wall of Excellence EXTRA BASES XX II -- Justin Morneau makes dreams come true in the desert
NOTES FROM AROUND AND ABOUT:
Thank you for having me on your website. Its very much appreciated.
Brett Bousquet Calgary Pacific University
February 3 at 1:12pm Thanks, although I am not playing ball anymore, im glad to be apart of the face book group.
Greg Hockin Neepawa, Man. Former Jamestown Jimmie
Great site, great articles, keep up the good work. A fan of the canadian way Go Canada!
Larry Balkwill Chatham, Ont. (Father of Larry Balkwill, committed to Siena College)