August 18, 2022
By Kevin Glew
Cooperstowners in Canada
Just four days after breaking the record for most major league games played by a Canadian, Joey Votto has announced he’ll undergo season-ending surgery on his left rotator cuff on Friday.
The Etobicoke, Ont., native, who has batted .205 with 11 home runs in 91 games this season, made the announcement after the Cincinnati Reds’ 1-0 win over the Philadelphia Phillies at The Great American Ballpark on Wednesday.
The surgery generally requires a recovery and rehab period of six months, so the 38-year-old slugger should be ready for spring training.
“I don’t know how to explain what exactly happened, but it’s been lingering for a while,” Votto told reporters after Wednesday’s game. “I’ve had a difficult time with it.”
Votto believes the injury may actually date back to the 2015 season, but he has been able to play through the pain until recently.
“Only the past maybe three months or so has it been painful to the point where it’s difficult to lift [and] hurts to sleep,” Votto told reporters. “I’m not sure it’s affected my performance. … I can’t say that. I don’t want to make an excuse.”
The Canuck first baseman underwent an MRI after the Reds’ most recent road trip, which showed damage to the rotator cuff. The doctor recommended surgery.
Votto has one year left on his contract with the Reds and an option for 2024.
On Sunday, he played his 1,989th major league game to pass Larry Walker (Maple Ridge, B.C.) for the most games played by a Canadian. The games played record is the most recent all-time Canadian major league mark that Votto has claimed. He is already the all-time Canuck leader in at bats (7,044), plate appearances (8,504), walks (1,338) and All-Star Game selections (six).
If he’s able to return to a full-time role in 2023, he is expected to challenge Walker’s all-time Canadian records in doubles (471) and hits (2,160). Votto has 453 doubles and 2,093 hits.
Votto also ranks second to Walker in runs scored (1,145), home runs (342), RBIs (1,106), total bases (3,616) and WAR (Wins Above Replacement) (64.5).
Selected by the Reds in the second round of the 2002 MLB draft, Votto was in his 16th major league season with the club and is considered one of the best hitters of the past two decades. The Canadian slugger has topped the National League in on-base percentage seven times, in walks five times and has batted over .300 in eight full seasons.
In 2021, at age 37, he belted 36 home runs and reached three key career milestones when he registered his 2,000th hit, 300th home run and 1,000th RBI.
“It’s a big blow,” Reds manager David Bell told reporters about Votto’s season-ending surgery. “Obviously we’re going to miss him a ton. I have no idea how he was playing with it … trying to play this game with a torn rotator cuff. I was lucky enough to talk to the doctors. They were very clear this has to get done in order to get Joey back healthy for next season. As much as we’ll miss him now, that’s kind of what I’m looking forward to.”
Canadian ball hall adds historic lineup card from Thomson to collection
When Rob Thomson (Corunna, Ont.) took over as manager of the Philadelphia Phillies on June 3, he became the first full-time Canadian big league manager since George Gibson (London, Ont.) with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1934. Thomson has since led the Phillies to a 43-23 record and into a National League playoff position. On July 12, when the Phillies travelled to Toronto to take on the Blue Jays at the Rogers Centre, he became the first Canadian major league skipper to manage a game in Canada. The Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in St. Marys, Ont., has secured the Phillies official lineup card from that game for their collection (See above).
Pivetta dominates Pirates
After two outstanding months in May and June, Boston Red Sox right-hander Nick Pivetta (Victoria, B.C.) struggled mightily in July, posting an 0-3 record and a 9.38 ERA in five starts. He had two so-so starts to begin August, allowing six runs in 11 innings, before permitting just one hit in seven scoreless innings on Tuesday to earn the win against the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park. The win evened his season record at 9-9 and lowered his ERA to 4.28 in an American League-leading 24 starts.