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.
The Giants placed outfielder Hunter Pence on the 10-day disabled list with a right thumb sprain, per an official announcement on Friday. Pence initially sustained the injury during the club’s home opener on April 3, when he dove to intercept a line drive double from Robinson Cano and jammed his thumb. Weeks of playing through the pain hasn’t worked, so he’ll take a breather while the Giants give outfielder Mac Williamson a chance to start in left after getting called up from Triple-A Fresno.
Pence, 35, wouldn’t pin his recent struggles on his injury, but it’s clear that he’s having difficulty finding his footing this year. He slashed a meager .172/.197/.190 through 61 plate appearances in 2018, collecting just one extra-base hit and two walks during the Giants’ dismal 7-11 stretch. While it’s far too early in the season to make any final judgments, it doesn’t look like the veteran outfielder will be replicating the .275+ average, 4.0+ fWAR totals of years past (at least, not anytime soon).
Williamson, meanwhile, has gotten off to a hot start in Triple-A. Prior to his call-up this weekend, the 27-year-old batted an incredible .487/.600/1.026 with six home runs and a 1.626 OPS through his first 50 PA. A hot Triple-A bat doesn’t always survive the transition to the majors, but the Giants will use all the help they can get — especially as they take on the AL West-leading Angels this weekend.