Joey Votto's rehab assignment might not last long after home run in first at-bat

Cincinnati Reds designated hitter Joey Votto (19).
Cincinnati Reds designated hitter Joey Votto (19). / Kareem Elgazzar/The Enquirer / USA TODAY

The Cincinnati Reds began the 2023 season without their franchise first baseman on the Opening Day roster. But Joey Votto might not be on his rehab assignment for very long.

Votto began a rehab assignment in Nashville on Saturday as a memeber of the Louisville Bats. Votto and the Bats were supposed to begin their season on Friday, but a weather delay pushed Game 1 into Saturday.

Votto batted third in manager Pat Kelly's lineup behind top prospects Michael Siani and Matt McLain. Votto didn't waste any time declaring himself almost ready for a spot on the Reds roster.

Reds 1B Joey Votto's rehab assignment might not last long.

Joey Votto has stressed all spring that he wasn't going to return to the Cincinnati Reds lineup until he was full-go. Votto jumped on the very first pitch he saw and launched it over the center field wall. It's fair to say that he's getting closer to being full-go.

According to, Votto's homer travelled 448 feet at almost 108 mph off the bat. That was his longest home run since September of 2021. If that version of Votto is back in 2023, then the opposing pitchers had better be on high-alert.

Outside of 2021, Votto has struggled to live up to the lofty standards he set for himself after winning MVP and going to five All-Star Games from 2010-2017. Since the 2018 season began, Votto has hit just .256/.371/.444 after slashing .313/.428/.541 in the previous 11 seasons.

If the Cincinnati Reds intend to be even remotely competitive in 2023, the club is going to need Joey Votto to do, well, Joey Votto-type things. Once he's declared ready to go, fans should expect to see the six-time in the lineup nearly every day playing first base.

David Bell has a plan for Tyler Stephenson that includes time at first base as well, so on the those occasions, expect Votto to act as the Reds designated hitter. Has talk of Joey Votto's demise been greatly exaggerated? Perhaps, but he's going to have to prove it. Saturday's rehab assignment was a good start. Votto finished 1-for-3 with a home run, a walk, and two strikeouts.

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