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Joey Votto explains the story behind his Players Weekend uniform name, “Tokki 2”

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Major League Baseball released the personalized jerseys for the inaugural Players Weekend, scheduled for this upcoming weekend. Craig highlighted some of the more interesting choices, like Mariners third baseman Kyle Seager‘s “Corey’s Brother.”

One that flew under the radar was Reds first baseman Joey Votto‘s “Tokki 2.” It actually has a really cool story behind it, which Votto explained on Wednesday. It involves outfielder Shin-Soo Choo, who was Votto’s teammate on the Reds in 2013. Via MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon:

“He was performing really well to the point that I kept telling him all the time, ‘I’m trying to keep up with you, I’m trying to catch you. How can I catch you? How can I beat you on the season?'” Votto explained. “About halfway through the year, I said, ‘Have you ever been to a dog track?’ He said, ‘Yep.’ I said, ‘You know those rabbits in the middle that spin around the center of the dog track that dogs chase but can never catch?’ He said, ‘Yep.’ I said, ‘That’s how I feel about you. No matter how much I chase, I can’t catch you.’ He said, ‘Oh yeah, that’s a tokki.'”

“Tokki” is the Korean word for rabbit.

“Every day, we would say what’s up to each other, and we’d call each other Tokki,” Votto added. “Maybe three-quarters into the year and by the end of it, he said, ‘You’re my tokki.’ He was basically saying, ‘I’m trying to catch up with you now.’ By the end, he was Tokki 1 and I was Tokki 2. It’s just kind of a full-circle thing that we both put the word rabbit on the back of our jerseys. I thought it was kind of cool that we got to use a Korean word and got to share something with a former teammate. It’s an inside joke between the two of us that we get to share with everybody else now.”

What strikes me about this story is how Votto adopted some of Choo’s culture, in this case his language. When foreigners come over to the U.S., they’re expected to assimilate, forgoing so many things that have made them who they are, like mannerisms, language, habits, lifestyle choices, etc. People from the U.S. very rarely go the other way. Votto did and it resulted in a great friendship with a teammate.

Nick Williams has been trying to sell Jake Arrieta on the Phillies

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CSN Philly’s Jim Salisbury reports that Phillies outfielder Nick Williams has been working out daily with free agent starter Jake Arrieta in Austin. The right-hander, who won the 2015 National League Cy Young Award, still remains teamless with spring training less than a month away. Williams has been trying to sell Arrieta on joining the Phillies.

Williams said of Arrieta, “He loves it here [Austin]. He has told me he likes working with young guys. I’m like, ‘All right, come on up.’ But I’m not writing the check. I don’t know what he wants. I don’t really dig into that because I’m not really in his position.”

On GM Matt Klentak’s hunt for pitching help, new manager Gabe Kapler said, “The pursuit is very real. I have a lot of trust that we’ll either go in [to spring training] with a new toy or we will pass on the opportunity because we’re better off giving this collection of pitchers a really healthy look because we thought that we could go acquire that piece a little bit later on this season or in the offseason next year.”

Arrieta, who turns 32 years old in March, went 14-10 with a 3.53 ERA and a 163/55 K/BB ratio in 168 1/3 innings last season with the Cubs. The Cubs, Cardinals, and Brewers have been linked to Arrieta this month.

Presently, the Phillies’ starting rotation figures to include Aaron Nola, Jerad Eickhoff, and Vince Velasquez along with some combination of Nick Pivetta, Ben Lively, Zach Eflin, Mark Leiter, and Jake Thompson. Arrieta would certainly amount to a big upgrade in the starting rotation and could make the Phillies a more attractive landing spot for Bryce Harper or Manny Machado, who become free agents after the 2018 campaign. The Phillies are expected to be in the mix for either or both players.