Joey Votto is still feeling discomfort in his quad

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Reds first baseman Joey Votto took ground balls on Wednesday and swung a bat on Thursday, but he hasn’t responded as well as the club expected, reports C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer. Votto is not with the Reds as they open up a series in Pittsburgh.

Votto has been out since July 8 with a left distal quad strain. There’s increasing belief that Votto could not return this season, as only 28 games remain going into their series opener tonight.

Manager Bryan Price on Votto:

“He took a few ground balls (Wednesday). It wasn’t as good a result as we had hoped. There was still some fairly significant discomfort when he got lateral side-to-side so we had back off with that and stay with some strengthening and whatever the physical therapy protocols are. We hope when we get back there are some marked improvement. He took some light swings yesterday and he’ll be able to gradually increase baseball workload based on how he feels.”

Due in part to the injury, Votto was posting some of the worst numbers of his career, slashing .255/.390/.409 with six home runs and 23 RBI in 272 plate appearances prior to landing on the disabled list.

Astros name Justin Verlander ALCS MVP

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Following the Astros’ decisive 4-0 shutout over the Yankees on Saturday night, the team crowned ace Justin Verlander the Most Valuable Player of the American League Championship Series. Hall of Fame outfielder and former MLB manager Frank Robinson handed the award to Verlander, who was beaming as he thanked his teammates and members of the Astros’ organization.

“I’ve got to say, it came down to the wire, and one thing kept going off in my head was Dallas,” Verlander told the crowd gathered at Minute Maid Park. “When he called me, he said that I won’t regret my decision to join the Houston Astros. And here we are right now, it’s the best feeling in the world. We’ve got four more wins to win a World Series, and I do not regret my decision to come here. This is the best feeling a player can have. So, thank you.”

Among a cast that boasted the likes of Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa and Dallas Keuchel, among others, Verlander was spectacular. He locked down a complete game win in Game 2, holding the Yankees to one run on five hits and a walk and striking out a postseason-high 13 batters. In Game 6, he saved the Astros from elimination with seven scoreless innings, helping propel the club to their eventual 7-1 finish that set up their series-clinching finale on Saturday.

The 34-year-old righty also took his place among some postseason greats. Thanks to an eight-strikeout outing on Friday night, his collective 136 postseason strikeouts are good for sixth-most in MLB playoff history, just a smidgen shy of Tom Glavine (143), Mike Mussina (145), Roger Clemens (173), Andy Pettitte (183) and John Smoltz (199). He also joined Bob Gibson, Curt Schilling and Sandy Koufax as one of just four hurlers to strike out 20+ Yankees in a postseason series.