After Team Canada was eliminated from the World Baseball Classic on Sunday, Joey Votto returned to his traditional third spot in the lineup as the Reds played the Dodgers on Tuesday night.
Votto told manager Dusty Baker he felt good playing nine innings, although as the team’s designated hitter he didn’t have the wear and tear of playing defense. Justin Morneau of the Twins was the starting first baseman for Canada.
“(Votto) said his stroke was a little off, which is to be expected right now,” Baker said. “He played for his country. That was the right thing to do. Now it’s time to come play for us.”
Although Votto had just a pair of hits in three games, he did draw five walks. Votto led the National League in walks each of the last two seasons.
And Baker said there’s nothing wrong with waiting for the right pitch.
“If he chases stuff out of the zone, those are low-percentage pitches to hit. His name is Joey Votto, you know. People read the books,” Baker said. “I had Barry Bonds, and he didn’t go out of the zone. He might get one pitch to hit a night, and he didn’t miss it. He was ready for it. Joey isn’t Barry yet. He’s on his way.”
Baker said the pitches will come, but the hardest part is staying active and engaged.
“Joey can’t be lulled to sleep by them pitching around him. Sooner or later they’re gonna come at him. Pitchers have too much pride to always continue to run from somebody. These guys haven’t run in their whole life from anybody,” Baker said.
“You know how many gunfighters Jesse James killed? There’s always gonna be some fool that thinks they can outdraw Billy The Kid. These guys have pride. Some of it’s stupid pride, but it’s pride.”
Votto continues to grow his brand, as he’s scheduled to make an appearance on “The Cleveland Show” this Sunday on Fox along with Andre Ethier, Matt Kemp, David Ortiz and Jimmy Rollins.
Reassigned: A number of players moved their lockers down the hall on Tuesday as the Reds announced a dozen moves.
Catcher Nevin Ashley was one of those, joining pitchers Nick Christiani, Chad Rogers, infielder Kristopher Negron and outfielder Ryan LaMarre in reassignment to minor-league camp. Pitchers Tony Cingrani and Daniel Corcino were optioned to Louisville, pitchers Kyle Lotzkar and Josh Ravin were optioned to Pensacola and Carola Contreras and Yorman Rodriguez were optioned to Bakersfield. Left-handed pitcher Ismael Guillon was optioned back to Dayton, where he made four appearances last season.
Ashley, who worked his way up the Tampa Bay chain before becoming a minor-league free agent last fall, had one hit in 11 at-bats during his stint. He said he was impressed with the Reds pitching staff.
“You’ve got a deep staff here. Every one of the starters has incredible stuff,” Ashley said. “Each guy can command numerous pitches. It’s deep and competitive.”
Coming in as a new catcher is one of the more difficult jobs in a baseball clubhouse, as building chemistry can sometimes take years.
“Sometimes it feels like you’re behind the 8-ball a little bit, but that’s my job to come in and get to know the guys. You get to know what their first pitch and their secondary pitch is, and where they want me to set up, sequences they like,” Ashley said. “I take pride in that.”
Infield battle: There are 11 non-roster invitees still at camp, and two are vying for the utility infielder job as Emmanuel Burriss and Cesar Izturis are hoping to unseat Jason Donald, who came to camp on the 40-man roster.
Baker said Izturis, who has played parts of a dozen big-league seasons, is still a viable option.
“He can play short. If his legs remain healthy, that was the question when I had him before in Chicago,” Baker said. “It’s gonna be a tough decision. There’s Donald, Burriss and Izturis. We’ve got some very tough decisions. All I can do is give them the ball. Most of the time people cut themselves.”
Extra bases: The Reds play again thhis afternoon (4:05 p.m.), hosting the San Francisco Giants at Goodyear Ballpark. Bronson Arroyo is scheduled to start for Cincinnati while Barry Zito is slated for the Giants. … The Reds rolled out their expected Opening Day lineup again Tuesday, with the exception of second baseman Burriss filling in for Brandon Phillips. Zack Cozart hit second, although he’ll likely hit seventh during the season. … Donald Lutz was not part of the reassignment, and although he’s not likely to make the club, he continues to show he’ll be ready soon. Lutz is hitting .368 this spring with a .579 slugging percentage.