Cincinnati Reds first baseman Joey Votto will begin a rehab stint at Triple-A Louisville on Saturday as he makes another attempt to return from surgery nine-plus months ago.
Votto, 39, had surgery on his left shoulder on Aug. 19 to repair his rotator cuff and biceps. There remains no timetable for his return to the majors.
Votto attempted a rehab stint at Louisville earlier this season and had to halt it after 10 games when it was clear he wasn't ready to be activated from the injured list. He batted .184 (7-for-38) with one homer and 21 strikeouts.
Votto said he feels better now.
"I couldn't catch balls. I couldn't make contact when I wanted to. If you can't catch the ball and you can't catch it with your bat, you can't play," Votto told reporters on Friday. "You can play but eventually you won't play. When I went down on my first rehab, I just felt nothing like myself. I felt weak. I felt sore all the time. I wasn't strong at all. I lacked everything I needed to perform on a consistent basis.
"With the past roughly six weeks of rehab, live work, steady work, I feel like I'm in a place to begin the rehab (assignment)."
Votto said the aborted rehab stint that ran April 1-14 was not a mistake.
"No, no, no, no. That was right in line with, 'Let's try.' It was almost like no harm, no foul," Votto said. "There were occasions when someone would throw the ball to me and I got out of the way. As a defender, you have to get in there, stick your nose in there and make a play. My instinct was to get out of the way because I was incapable of actually catching the ball with my arm.
"As far as offensively, I was fighting for sure in there. But at no point was I ever competitive, like a legitimate threat."
Votto, a six-time All-Star, had a streak of 14 consecutive Opening Day starts end due to the injury.
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 making $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