Joey Votto on return timetable: “I don’t think it will be too much longer.”

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There’s still no official timetable for Joey Votto’s return, but the Reds first baseman finally sounds confident that he’ll be back in the lineup fairly soon.

Here’s some of what he told John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer:

I’ve come a long way. I feel like I can’t put day on it. But I feel like I’ve come a long way. I don’t think it will be too much longer.

Votto hasn’t played since undergoing knee surgery in mid-July and required a second “minor” surgery two weeks ago after suffering a setback. He was having an amazing season when he went down, hitting .342 with an NL-leading 1.069 OPS, yet somehow the Reds have gone 26-12 without Votto in the lineup.

Mariners claim Kaleb Cowart off waivers from Angels

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The Mariners announced that the club claimed Kaleb Cowart off waivers from the Angels. Interestingly, the Mariners list Cowart as both an outfielder and a right-handed pitcher. Cowart has never pitched professionally, but the Mariners will try him as a two-way player next season, Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times reports. Cowart was a highly regarded pitcher in high school.

Cowart, 26, has played all over the field, spending most of his time at third base and second base, but also logging a handful of innings at first base, shortstop, and left field.  He hasn’t hit much at all, owning a career .177/.241/.293 triple-slash line across 380 plate appearances in the big leagues. It makes sense to try another angle.

Shohei Ohtani, of course, is helping to popularize the rebirth of the two-way player. In his first year in the majors after having played in Japan for five years, Ohtani won the AL Rookie of the Year Award by posting a .925 OPS in 367 plate appearances along with a 3.31 ERA over 10 starts. Don’t expect Cowart to hit those lofty numbers, but additional versatility could prolong his life in the majors.