Votto: I'll retire if I'm not playing up to standards
Joey Votto isn't settling for anything less than 100% in his quest to return.
The longtime Cincinnati Reds first baseman made it back to the diamond this spring after shoulder surgery last August but is still not a lock to make the Opening Day roster. That's just fine for Votto, who holds himself to the highest of standards to the point he hinted at retirement if he can't be a productive hitter anymore.
"I've done really well with my offensive work (this spring)," Votto said Saturday, according to Bobby Nightengale of the Cincinnati Enquirer. "I mean this, seriously, I think I'm going to play well. I think I'm going to perform well offensively. If not, I'm going to retire. End of story."
Votto's 2022 campaign was the worst of his 16-year career. However, playing through shoulder injuries for much of the year partially resulted in his drop-off. He underwent season-ending surgery in August to repair a torn rotator cuff and a damaged bicep muscle.
The 39-year-old never established a firm timetable for his return, but he was always unlikely to start this campaign in Cincinnati. The possibility of Votto playing in the season opener came about when he returned to the diamond late in spring training, going 4-for-20 with four walks during eight Cactus League contests. The Reds aren't expected to make a final decision on Votto's Opening Day spot until rosters are due Thursday.
Votto, entering the final year of his $225-million contract with the Reds, said he feels a sense of duty to his team and fans to be the best version of himself and won't rush back just to participate in the Opening Day festivities.
"I just want to make sure I'm clear: This is a performance-based game," Votto said. "You have to do your job. And I can't come back early, tank, and embarrass our organization. I have to come back, perform well, and be healthy."
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