Good news for the Reds: Joey Votto has a quadriceps injury, not a knee injury

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UPDATE: Reds fans can exhale now. Mark Sheldon of MLB.com reports that an MRI exam showed merely a strained left quadriceps for Votto and for now at least he’s avoided the disabled list. That could sideline him for a while, but it’s obviously much better than the assumed bad news from this morning regarding his left knee.

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Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com reports that Reds first baseman Joey Votto is scheduled to undergo an MRI exam on his left knee and is likely to be placed on the disabled list.

That’s the same knee Votto had surgery on in 2012, costing him two months of action, and according to Rosenthal the former MVP is not traveling with the Reds on their current road trip.

Votto was off to a relatively slow start, hitting .257 with six homers in 39 games, but he leads the league with 33 walks and has posted a .410 on-base percentage and .859 OPS.

Votto would join Mat Latos, Tony Cingrani, Jay Bruce, and Devin Mesoraco on the Reds’ disabled list and Cincinnati just got closer Aroldis Chapman back after he missed the first six weeks with facial fractures. All of which helps explain why the Reds are 18-21 after back-to-back 90-win seasons.

Neftali Soto could get an extended opportunity filling in for Votto at first base, but the 25-year-old former third-round draft pick has an underwhelming track record in the minors that includes a modest .410 slugging percentage in 244 games at Triple-A. A shocking number of Reds fans like to complain about Votto’s lack of power and RBIs, but he’s what makes that lineup click and replacing his incredible on-base skills is impossible.

The Mets are a mess

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The Mets lost again on Thursday afternoon, suffering a 7-5 defeat at the hands of the Braves. It’s their sixth consecutive loss and the club is now in last place in the NL East. Not exactly the start the Mets envisioned.

Matt Harvey got the start, but lasted only 4 1/3 innings. He gave up six runs on five hits and five walks with only one strikeout. After the game, Harvey said he was tight and that he threw yesterday expecting to start on Friday instead, per Matt Ehalt of The Record. Sounds like no one communicated to Harvey that he’d be starting this afternoon until it was too late for him to properly prepare.

Harvey started because Noah Syndergaard was scratched due to a “tired arm.” Syndergaard blew reporters off after the game, according to Mike Puma of the New York Post. Puma then added that Syndergaard ripped Mets P.R. guy Jay Horwitz for letting reporters approach him.

By the way, the Mets also lost outfielder Yoenis Cespedes to a hamstring injury. Not much else can go wrong in Queens.

Joey Votto isn’t on board with the latest fly ball trend among hitters

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If you haven’t heard, fly balls — not ground balls or line drives — are all the rage among hitters these days. Tigers outfielder J.D. Martinez summed it up perfectly last month when he said, “I’m not trying to hit a [freaking] line drive or a freaking ground ball.” The goal is to maximize damage. Last year, for example, fly balls became hits about 17 percent less often than ground balls (7.4% versus 24.6%), but hitters had a slugging percentage more than twice as much as on ground balls (.539 versus .267). This refocusing has helped hitters like Martinez as well as Ryan Zimmerman reinvigorate their careers.

Reds first baseman Joey Votto, who is as much a student of new age analytics as anyone in the game, doesn’t feel that this approach is necessarily a good one, as Zach Buchanan of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports. Votto said:

Where I get concerned is the guys that make this attempt and burn out too much of their time and don’t get a chance to be their best selves, and either don’t make it to the big leagues or don’t perform their best in the big leagues because they’re always attempting this new style of hitting. I see it with a lot of guys. Everyone tells the good stories, but there’s a lot of s—ty stories of guys who are wasting their time trying things.

Votto added that while the fly ball approach is working right now, pitchers will soon adapt and the fly ball approach won’t be so good anymore. And he’s right. Baseball has always been a game of adjustments. For example, as teams have gotten comfortable with shifting their infield, hitters like the Cubs’ Anthony Rizzo and Kyle Schwarber have both dropped bunts down the third base line for easy hits. Knowing that hitters are aiming to hit fly balls now, pitchers may stay higher in the strike zone more often as one possible solution.

Votto is just trying to stay as well-rounded as possible. He says that he wants to become “unpitchable.” Votto wants to be like Angels outfielder Mike Trout, whom he describes as a guy “who can do absolutely anything he wants” and “at all times [has] all options.”

So far, Votto is having another productive season despite a relatively pedestrian batting average and on-base percentage. He’s hitting .238/.330/.563 with seven home runs and 16 RBI in 94 plate appearances. Coincidentally, he’s been hitting way more fly balls than usual as he’s currently carrying a 42.3 percent rate compared to his 33.1 career average, according to FanGraphs. His line drives are way down to 16.9 percent compared to his 25.4 percent career average.