Votto from surgeries to AS game

* Etobicoke's Joey Votto walks the red carpet at the All-Star parade on 42nd Street in New York. Red carpet photo: Bradley Henderson from Cathy Smyth. Second photo: Votto and girlfriend Jeanne Paulus riding in the all-star parade in Kansas City in 2012.  ....  MLB, Brewers open workouts 2014 Canadian draft list 2013 Canadians in the Minors  2013 Canadians in College  Letters of Intent

By Bob Elliott

NEW YORK _ It was Joey Votto's fourth consecutive all-star game Tuesday night.

Yet being in the National League clubhouse is far from routine.

Not when he had two knee surgeries last summer, the first five days after the all-star game in Kansas City.

Not when he returned to the Cincinnati Reds lineup in September and was homer less in 127 at-bats (105 in the regular season, another 22 in the post-season).

So, being in the starting lineup at the 84th all-star game was not something the Etobicoke first baseman counted on last fall.




The Reds returned to Cincinnati leading the San Francisco Giants 2-0 in the best-of-five National League division series. Homer Bailey, plus relievers, Sean Marshall, Aroldis Chapman and Jonathan Broxton struck out 16 but lost 2-1 on an error by Scott Rolen in the 10th.

The Giants won the next two becoming the first team in post-season history to win three games facing elimination in the other team’s park.

“That was the low point for me,” said Votto Monday. “I didn’t get the opportunity to change the score. Buster Posey hit a grand slam  for the Giants in the deciding game. All I could do was hit singles or take a walk.

“I never had the capacity to help my team and put a big number on the board.”

Votto was asked if he’d seen much of Baltimore Orioles first baseman Chris Davis, the AL home run leader with 37 at the break.

“I’ve seen him hit a homer every day ... I mean it seams like every day,” said Votto. “He misses balls and they still go out. I watched him one night from Cincinnati, he missed an Andy Pettitte pitch and the ball still went out ... to centre.

“That’s how you get a bunch of home runs: hit them 20 rows up and hit those fence scrapers that you miss.”

He deadpanned how he had 37 homers ... “for the whole season, when I won the MVP.”

Votto won the MVP in 2010 with 36 doubles, 37 homers, 113 RBIs, a .324 average and an OPS of 1.024 in 150 games.

“I thought I had the game figured out, I had it solved,” Votto said. “The next year I had to start all over. It is a humbling game.”

Votto flew in his girlfriend Jeanne Paulus from Sarasota, Fla., mother Wendy, his brothers Tyler and twins Ryan and Paul from Brampton, his trainer Corey Stenstrup of IMG Academies in Bradenton, Fla., his former Etobicoke coach Bob Smyth and wife Cathy from Ladysmith B.C. The group went to diner Monday night.

The Smyths took the regular Nanaimo-Vancouver-Toronto-JFK shuttle and the former Etobicoke Rangers coach wore Votto’s 2003 rookie-class Pioneer League championship ring from the Billings Mustangs his star pupil had given him.

Votto said he was pleased to see former Reds teammate Edwin Encarnacion make the AL squad.

“Any time Scott Rolen would start to chirp, I’d say ‘I wish we hadn’t made that trade with Toronto,’” said Votto jokingly. Rolen was sent to Cincinnati for Encarnacion, along with minor leaguers Josh Roenicke and Zach Stewart, at the 2009 July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.

Over the course of 45 minutes Votto must have been asked about 10 times about Matt Harvey, the New York Mets right-hander who starts for the NL.

“Harvey has four very good pitches, he reminds me of Stephen Strasburg because he has multiple pitches,” said Votto. “The first base coach from the Texas Rangers (Dave Anderson) asked me about him ... darn I shouldn’t have said the name of the team.

“I told him how good Harvey’s command was. I wouldn’t be surprised if he has some no hitters in his future.”

Votto said Tuesday’s game will be a treat for Reds fans to turn on the all-star game and see the right side of the Cincy infield starting with Brandon Phillips at second and Votto at first.

He also had praise for New York Yankees closer Mariano Rivera, who AL manager Jim Leyland said would pitch -- whether it’s to get the save or earlier -- and who Votto had faced once before.

“A check swing single, but it looked like a line drive in the box,” said Canada’s highest-paid athlete. “He’s the best closer in history. And the thing is, no one gets upset with him. Usually, when guys have a lot of success players don’t like it. But he never pisses anyone off. He’s so ... so honourable.

“Mariano Rivera coming on in the ninth to get the save is dependable as the sun coming up the next morning.”

Surgeries or not, just like Votto being in the all-star game every year.