Cincinnati Reds first baseman Joey Votto will begin the season on the injured list due to his surgically repaired shoulder to end his streak of 14 consecutive Opening Day starts.
Votto underwent surgery on his left rotator cuff and biceps last August and isn't ready for the start of the season. Votto said Monday that he will report to Triple-A Nashville later this week and begin a minor league rehab stint on Friday.
Votto, 39, said at a news conference that he was disappointed that he will miss Thursday's opener against the visiting Pittsburgh Pirates.
"It saddens me because Opening Day means a lot to our city," Votto said. "It means a lot to me. This is just how it is shaking out this year. I'm trying to hustle back and get back in uniform as quickly as possible and help the team. It's just going to be a little bit later this year."
Votto received just 22 spring training at-bats (with four hits) and he felt that wasn't enough activity to get him ready for the season.
"What led me to that decision was just not being ready," Votto said. "Starting a good bit behind during spring training, still working through some of the rehab process. Not accumulating enough time in the field. Not accumulating enough at-bats. (Sunday) was the first day where I felt semi-close to being able to play close to 100 percent. It takes a stretch of time feeling that way before you feel like you are regular season ready."
Votto, a six-time All-Star, began his Opening Day starting streak in 2009. The first day he will be eligible to play for the Reds this season is April 6.
Cincinnati's options to start at first base on Opening Day include Tyler Stephenson, Wil Myers and Jason Vosler. The latter isn't on the 40-man roster so the Reds would have to do some juggling if he turns out to the choice.
Votto batted just .205 with 11 homers and 41 RBIs in 91 games last season. His on-base percentage was just .319.
Votto was the National League MVP in 2010 and batted over .300 eight times in a nine-year span earlier in his career. He also has led the NL in on-base percentage seven times.
His career numbers include a .297 batting average, .412 on-base percentage, 342 homers and 1,106 RBIs in 1,991 games over 16 seasons, all with the Reds.
Votto is under contract for $25 million in 2023, the final season of a 10-year, $225 million deal. The Reds hold a $20 million option for 2024 with a $7 million buyout.
--Field Level Media