Reds' Joey Votto graces cover of Sports Illustrated

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MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon passes along word that Reds first baseman Joey Votto will be featured on the cover of the Sports Illustrated that is set to reach newsstands today.  Sheldon also has a picture of the cover, so go check that out.

Because we’re mostly sane here at HBT and don’t buy into petty jinx theories, this all arrives as great news.  Votto is an MVP candidate, he might just win the Triple Crown, and he’s overcome a bout with clinical depression along the way.  It’s nice to see that he is finally getting a dose of well-deserved exposure.

But, uh, go ahead and tell us how Cincinnati is now doomed in the comments section.

Votto is the first Reds player to make the cover of SI since Ken Griffey Jr. on June 14, 2004.  The 26-year-old leads all eligible National Leaguers with a .323 batting average and he trails only Adam Dunn and Albert Pujols with 29 home runs.  The Reds currently hold a 2.5-game lead over the Cardinals in the National League Central.

Watch: Shohei Ohtani strikes out his first spring training batter

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Sure, spring training games don’t count toward anything “real,” but that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy Angels’ star pitcher/hitter Shohei Ohtani mowing down his first big league competitors.

On Saturday, Ohtani took the mound against the Brewers for his first official outing in an Angels uniform. After allowing a leadoff double to Jonathan Villar, the 23-year-old righty settled down and issued a three-pitch strikeout to Nate Orf, his first of the spring.

It wasn’t the cleanest inning for the right-hander: the Brewers plated their first run on a walk, wild pitch and subsequent throwing error by catcher Martin Maldonado. Ohtani didn’t let things unravel further, however, and induced a pop-up for the second out before catching Brett Phillips looking on a called strike three to end the inning.

While the two-way phenom only lasted another two batters (a Keon Broxton dinger finished him off in the second), he’s already started to look like a formidable presence on the mound. Time will tell whether he can deliver at the plate as well — rumor has it he could feature in the Angels’ lineup as soon as Monday.