Joey Votto hit a home run very hard and very far

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According to ESPN’s Home Run Tracker, there have only been eight other home runs hit this year that went as far as the 470-foot blast Reds first baseman Joey Votto hit this afternoon against Brewers reliever Michael Blazek. Shin-Soo Choo had reached with a one-out walk and remained on first as Votto came to the plate with two outs. After working the count to 3-1, seeing only 90-95 MPH fastballs from Blazek, Votto crushed a 95 inside fastball down the right field line.

Rather than run, Votto knew he had hit the ball well enough that the only outcomes were home run or foul ball. As the ball began its descent, Votto contorted his body as if to will it to stay fair. The ball struck the foul pole near the top. The blast was officially estimated at 470 feet, Votto’s 23rd of the season. He now has a .928 OPS, good for eighth-best in all of baseball.

The video doesn’t really do the home run justice because the cameras couldn’t actually capture the flight path of the ball.

The Reds won 7-3 behind a quality start from Homer Bailey, who allowed three runs over seven innings. Aroldis Chapman was called on in the eighth and completed the four-out save, getting all four of the outs on strikeouts. The 84-65 Reds temporarily improve to three games behind the first-place Cardinals, and bolster their lead for the second National League Wild Card slot to five games over the red-hot Nationals.

Seattle Mariners to make a “full-court press” for Shohei Ohtani

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Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto said in a team-sponsored podcast the other day that the M’s will make a “full-court press” for Shohei Ohtani. To that end, Dipoto said that the M’s would be willing to let the two-way star to pitch and to hit, which is something Ohtani is interested in doing in the United States. Not all clubs are likely to let him do this, with most likely seeing him as a starting pitcher only.

Ohtani, who is expected to be posted by his Japanese team, the Nippon Ham Fighters, possibly as early as today, can sign with anyone he wants. He is, however, subject to the international bonus pool caps, so the bids on him will be somewhat limited. The Texas Rangers and New York Yankees have the most money available: $3.535 million for the Rangers and $3.5 million for the Yankees. The Twins ($3.245 million), Pirates ($2.266 million), Marlins ($1.74 million) and Mariners ($1.57 million) are the only other teams with more than $1 million left. Twelve teams — including the Dodgers, Cubs, Cardinals and Astros — are limited to a maximum of $300,000, having met or exceeded their caps for this signing period already.

Ohtani, however, is said to be less motivated by money than he is by finding the right situation. While a lot of guys say that, the fact that Ohtani is coming over to the U.S. now, when his financial prospects are limited, as opposed to waiting for two years when he is not subject to the bonus caps and could sign for nine figures, suggests that he is telling the truth. As such, a team like the Mariners that is willing to allow him to hit and pitch could make up for the couple of million less they have in bonus money to spend.

As for how that might work logistically, Dipoto said that the team would be willing to play DH Nelson Cruz a few days in the outfield to accommodate Ohtani, allowing him to DH on the days he’s not pitching. That might be . . . interesting to see, but given how badly the Mariners could use a good starting pitcher, they have an incentive to be creative.

Ohtani, 23, suffered some injuries in 2017, limiting him to just five starts and 65 games as a hitter. In 2016, however, he hit .289/.356/.547 with 22 homers in 342 at-bats and went 11-3 with a 3.24 ERA, and a K/BB ratio of 146/51 in 133.1 innings as a starter.

Five clubs have more money to spend on Ohtani than the Mariners do. None of those teams are on the west coast, which some Asian players have said in the past they preferred due to faster travel back home. The Mariners, owned for a long time by a Japanese company which still retains a minority interest in the club, and long the home for high-profile Japanese players such as Ichiro and Hisashi Iwakuma, likely have a better media and marketing reach in Japan than most other teams as well, which might be a factor in his decision making process. Is all that enough to sway Ohtani?

We’ll find out over the next couple of weeks.