Joey Votto had a productive, but not overly blazing first half. He went through a funk in June and picked it up again in July before the All-Star break. Coming out of the break, Votto has been scorching the ball.
Including a 3-for-4 game with a home run in Wednesday’s 9-1 win in Game 1 of the doubleheader vs. the Cubs, Votto is 12-for-24 (.500) with two homers in the second half.
“Even his outs right now are hard line drives all over the field,” Reds manager Bryan Price said.
What’s been helping Votto lately?
“I’ve been working with [hitting coach] Don Long to make some adjustments to what was a flawed swing,” Votto said. “I’m still kind of working through it. I feel like I’m headed in the right direction. There are some subtle adjustments to make.”
How were the flaws found?
“The ball speaks for you,” Votto replied. “The way the ball comes off the bat, timing with the pitchers, the way you feel at the plate. That does plenty for you. Then after that, you go to the video or have discussions with the right people and work from there.
“The best thing you can do is stay on it at all times. You want to be comfortable and natural in the box. But at the same time, we play over six months. All of us have aches and pains or changes in our bodies or all of a sudden, something creeps in and a month later, you realize it became something you never wanted it to be. That’s the advantage of our era now. We get to watch video. We get to chat about it and see it from a bunch of different directions and make the adjustments and hopefully produce a consistent swing.”
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Voting is open now at MLB.com to select the final player for each league’s 34-man roster via Final Vote. Fans can cast their votes from a list of five players from each league until 4 p.m. ET on Friday.
Johnny Cueto of the Reds is competing for votes against pitcher Carlos Martinez (Cardinals), pitcher Clayton Kershaw (Dodgers), pitcher Jeurys Familia (Mets) and shortstop Troy Tulowitzki (Rockies).
Reds teammates Todd Frazier and Brayan Pena are among those stumping for Cueto. Full story here: http://atmlb.com/1IHOosZ
The Reds received Minor League right-handed pitchers Kevin Shackelford and Barrett Astin on Wednesday to complete the Jonathan Broxton trade from Aug. 31.
Shackelford, 25, split the 2014 season with Class A Brevard and Double-A Huntsville. After he had a 0.87 ERA in 12 games at Brevard, he was 2-4 with a 4.86 ERA in 40 relief appearances.
Once a catcher for Marshall University, Shackelford was a 21st round Draft pick of Milwaukee in 2010 and was promptly converted to a pitcher.
In 27 games – including 18 starts — for Class A Wisconsin, Astin was 8-7 with a 4.96 ERA and four saves. Over 121 2/3 innings, he allowed 132 hits, 36 walks and 12 home runs while striking 81 batters.
Astin, 22, was a third-round Draft pick in 2013 out of the Univ. of Arkansas.
Plenty of unused quotes came from Saturday’s 11-1 Reds victory over the Blue Jays — a much-needed outcome for Cincinnati following the ugly defeat on Friday.
Here is a sampling from the clubhouses:
“If you look at the guys swinging the bat well, Ludwick has been huge. Luddy has been prolific showing up every time he gets a start and taking advantage of it, working as a pinch-hitter. Collectively, it’s the type of at-bats we have. It’s what we do to get a good pitch early in the at-bat to hit, to be patient to get that pitch, to battle with two strikes. … we’re increasing the number of pitches starting pitchers are having to throw to get through an inning.” — Reds manager Bryan Price on the offense, which has scored 70 runs over its last 10 games (seven wins)
“It’s been four long games previously, so we needed a somewhat quick game. I did my best to try to get a quick and productive game. I stayed aggressive. There were a couple of innings where I threw too many pitches but that’s part of the game.” — Pitcher Mike Leake, who worked 8 ip, 4 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 6 K, 1 HR, 113 pitches.
“I think it always helps when we get those early runs on the board. That allows him to go out there and not worry about giving up a solo homer and them going ahead. That was definitely nice, but yeah, he went right after the guys. He knew what he was able to do, and he was able to go out there and make a whole lot of pitches.” — catcher Devin Mesoraco on Mike Leake.
“That’s just the way the game works. It was another big deficit to overcome. It’s not like it was a close game and things started to get away. It was a little disappointing after last night to be honest with you but there’s nothing you can do about that now.” — Blue Jays manager John Gibbons.
An 8-3 Reds loss gave the Phillies two of three games in the series after Cincinnati took the opener on Friday.
*Since 2006, the Reds have gone 0-7-1 in series at Philadelphia and are 7-21 in those games.
“I don’t know what it is about coming here. We don’t play very well,” outfielder Chris Heisey said.
The game story and plenty of stuff will soon be up on MLB.com/Reds.com.
Items of note:
*Following Devin Mesoraco’s three-run homer in the first inning of Friday’s 3-0 win, the Reds have scored only four runs over their last 26 innings.
*Mesoraco was again the big bright spot offensively with a career-high in hits during his 4-for-4 game. But getting the hits provided less satisfaction without getting the win too.
“I want to win. That’s my first and foremost goal,” Mesoraco said. “I want to drive in runs. I want to score runs. Whether I get a hit or not, it means something to me. If I get a hit and don’t score or drive anybody in, it doesn’t help the team win. That’s what I’m trying to do.”
*Mesoraco has hits in 14 of his 15 games played and RBIs in 10 of those games. Overall, he is batting .500/.541/.870 with four homers and 17 RBIs.
*Tony Cingrani returned from the DL and gave up a career-high three home runs but the reviews were positive overall. Cingrani had his fastball velocity often in the 90-93 mph range.
“A lot crisper,” Mesoraco said. “He was able to carry his velocity throughout the game. He was able to hit that outside corner to righties, which sometimes he struggles with. Today he was able to do it pretty well. It was a step in the right direction and I think he’s going to be stronger and better.”
*The Reds bullpen continues to be a sore spot. Manny Parra, who had been one of the more successful pitchers earlier, gave up four runs and two hits and two walks.
*The NL’s worst bullpen, Reds relievers have a 5.40 ERA. They are almost a full run behind the Dodgers for 14th place.
*Since April 29, Billy Hamilton is batting .333 (13-for-39) with a .381 on-base percentage in 14 games.