Joey Votto donned the cape and helmet of a Viking. He was immediately at ease.
Votto helped the Cincinnati Reds extend their greatest winning streak in a decade to nine games on Monday night by hitting a go-ahead, two-run single and a home run in his return to the lineup following a 10-month hiatus due to surgery.
“Long time coming,” remarked Votto. “Ever since I witnessed them do it to each other, I’ve been thinking about how much I want that on me because it’s associated with a triumphant moment, and that’s precisely — exactly — what this team’s about. The way these players think about themselves and how hard they play has a different intensity than anything I’ve felt in a long time, perhaps in my whole career. I want to take part in this. This affects all of us.
Cincinnati moved a half-game clear of Milwaukee to retake the lead in the NL Central for the first time since early April. The Reds’ current winning run is their longest since they won 10 straight games from July 19 to July 29, 2012.
The Reds manager, David Bell, said that the team’s enthusiasm has been increasing. “I’m not surprised by it. I’m impressed.
Votto came back 10 months to the day after surgery on his left biceps and rotator cuff, and when he took the field in the second inning, he received a standing ovation. He waved to the audience while taking off his helmet, then touched it on his heart before lining up in the middle.
Not to undervalue them, but you wouldn’t anticipate that. I have the same sentiments towards them. It means a lot to me if they do the same. It was a noteworthy encounter.
He gave his team a 3-1 lead in the fifth inning with a belt-high, first-pitch fastball that Austin Gomber threw. Votto left the Reds’ dugout for a curtain call after rounding the bases on his 343rd home run while wearing the ceremonial Viking helmet and cloak that have accompanied Cincinnati long balls this season.
Votto said, “I played for a very long period, and now I’m sporting a helmet and a cape. “It’s a collaborative effort, and it helps me stay youthful. You have doubts since the rehabilitation was difficult. I don’t want to stand out as the odd one out. Every day, someone does something awesome to support the team. You don’t fit in if you’re not doing anything. All I want is to blend in.
Votto, 39, hadn’t played since August 16 and hadn’t hit a home run since last August 6 against Jake McGee of Milwaukee.
Bell replied, “He just got himself ready.” He has been making every effort to join our squad. Our colleagues really appreciated it. While he always felt a part of this, it now seems as if it should. He’s going to improve us.
In the sixth inning, Votto’s two-run single to centre off Jake Bird gave the Reds a 5-4 lead. The NL MVP from 2010 batted 2-for-3 with 3 RBIs.
Rockies manager Bud Black said, “He’s a person who should be commended for what he’s done in this community. He has worked here his whole career, which is unique in this day and age. The applause was great. Joey has excelled as a footballer for at least ten years. It was wonderful to see Cincinnati’s supporters acknowledge that.
Votto’s season, in which he hit.205 with 11 home runs and 41 RBIs, came to an end on August 19 due to surgery. The Reds said at the time of the procedure that they anticipated the six-time All-Star to return before opening day.
Votto said before the game, “I feel lot more like myself. “I’m fully recovered. A 10-month rehab is a long time. It is my duty to keep up with them if I want to re-join a successful baseball team.
He returned to Louisville on June 3 and played in 12 more games with the Bats until Sunday, hitting.182 with two home runs and six RBIs. Cincinnati put right-hander Hunter Greene on the 15-day IL with right hip soreness on Monday, retroactive to Sunday, then activated him from the IL.
Votto will play often, according to Bell, but it will depend on the opponents each day.
Votto is one of 20 players with 8,000 or more plate appearances who batted at least.297 with an on-base percentage of at least.400 (.412) and a slugging percentage of at least.500 (.513) in the last season of a $251.5 million, 12-year deal.
Since the playoff field was increased to 16 clubs in 2013 in preparation for the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, the Reds have only reached the playoffs once.
Votto said, “I’ve seen the atmosphere in this clubhouse. “Better things are happening,”
Right-hander Greene, 23, has made 14 starts and has a record of 2-4, 3.93 ERA, 100 strikeouts, and 7313 innings pitched.
Kevin Herget, a right-handed pitcher, was designated for assignment in order to make room on the 40-man roster for Votto.