Joey Votto will miss the remainder of the 2022 season, he announced Wednesday, after an MRI showed a rotator cuff tear in his left shoulder and he was advised by multiple doctors to undergo season-ending surgery.
The surgery is scheduled for Friday with a six-month recovery timeline. He says he plans to be ready for spring training in 2023.
“I’ve been able to play through it,” Votto said. “Only the past, three or four months or so has it been painful to the point where without getting into specifics, difficult to lift, hurts to sleep.”
Joey VottoMets announcer Rose: Joey Votto has a ‘big future in broadcasting’ if he so chooses
Reds top prospects:How Elly De La Cruz, others performed this season
Fans make it clear:Nick Castellanos, welcome back to Cincinnati
Votto underwent an MRI last Friday after the Reds returned from their 10-day road trip through Miami, Milwaukee, New York and Dyersville, Iowa for the Field of Dreams game.
It’s an injury that first surfaced in 2015, he said, when he caught a throw up the line and his left arm was caught with a baserunner.
“It bothered me for a bit afterwards, but the pain subsided, the strength returned, and I was able to manage,” Votto said. “But the doctor informed me with these sort of injuries, at some point, you hit a breaking point and you’re not able to manage it quite as well. That’s the way I felt over the last several months. I’ve noticed it has affected my hand, my arm in general. Truly, I’ve noticed it for a long time in my work and we’re used to playing through stuff like that and you just assume it’s going to pass.”
Statistically, it was Votto’s worst offensive season in his 16-year career, but teammates were in awe that he attempted to play through a torn rotator cuff. He’ll end the year with a .205 batting average, .319 on-base percentage, 11 homers, 18 doubles and 41 RBI in 91 games.
“I have no idea how he was playing with it,” Reds Manager David Bell said. “(Doctors) 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, just for Joey to be able to play pain-free, play free, play not injured.”
Votto was hitless in his final 22 at-bats, the longest hitless streak of his career, and he failed to reach base safely in his last four games, the first time that happened in his career, according to Elias Sports Bureau.
Joey Votto has one year left on the Cincinnati Reds contract
He will enter the final guaranteed season of his contract in 2023, owed $25 million, with a $20 million club option and a $7 million buyout for 2024.
“I’m not going to make an excuse. I’m not going to say it affected my performance,” Votto said. “I don’t know if it did or not, I can’t say. I got an MRI about 5-10 days ago or so, after our road trip, the first day back. For me to take the step of getting an MRI, I’ve played through lots of different stuff and I was motivated to get an MRI because of the pain, because of the interruption to my sleep, because it’s difficult to lift my arm. It didn’t surprise me, the result, but the feedback I received – I should get surgery – surprised me. I’ve tried to strength train it and it didn’t work.”
Even if Votto didn’t want to use a torn rotator cuff as an excuse for his performance, his teammates know what he went through to play every day.
“The talk inside the clubhouse, you could tell and you could see he wasn’t at his full potential, but it shows how much of a gamer he is,” Albert Almora Jr. said. “The way he cares about winning and about the game is super special to see on this side. I played against him for a couple of years. Just seeing how he goes about his work day to day is inspiring. It makes you better.”
Who could replace Joey Votto as the first baseman of the Cincinnati Reds?
Mike Moustakas, who could return as early as Friday from the 10-day injured list because of his calf strain, is likely one of the top options to fill the void at first base. Donovan Solano has taken groundballs at first, and Matt Reynolds started Wednesday’s game at the position.
Votto will turn 39 in September, which will raise speculation about retirement, but he reiterated his goal is to be healthy in time for spring training next year. He told teammates he planned to remain around the club after surgery Friday.
“It’s certainly part of life, you injure yourself and you want a better quality of movement and feel like you can sleep better and you’re not in pain constantly,” Votto said. “Not to say that I was in pain constantly, like this isn’t the sort of thing I’m going to gripe about – I was in pain, sure – but I need the surgery and the rehab. Now is a good time to get it because the doctors told me now is the time to get it. I heard that feedback from multiple doctors and there is not much debate with the experts. You can go out there and play, but my responsibility is to play and perform well. Part of that is health.”