Joey Votto’s surgically-repaired knee isn’t 100 percent yet

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Joey Votto required two procedures on his left knee this summer and wasn’t much of a power threat upon his return, going homerless in 25 regular season games and five postseason contests. During an appearance at the annual Redsfest today, Votto told Mark Sheldon of MLB.com that while he’s making progress, his knee still isn’t at 100 percent.

“When I first got injured, I didn’t anticipate it taking this long,” Votto said. “But I feel like I’ve made tremendous improvement over the last month. I struggled before, initially after the surgery, to crouch down even. I had too much swelling, not enough mobility in the joint, too much pain. Now I’m to the point where I can sit on the back of my heels, do a full squat. I can do all kinds of crouching. My strength is not at 100 percent yet, but it’s getting there. I can run at full speed, do jumping and do a lot of strength work. As far as improving, it’s been a great deal.”

Votto said after winning the Tip O’Neill Award for the top Canadian player that he intended to represent his home country in the upcoming World Baseball Classic, but he stepped back from that today.

“I’m not going to play in the WBC if I’m not 100 percent,” Votto said. “My priority to be at 100 percent for the Cincinnati Reds and hopefully at last we can win a World Series.”

Spoken like someone who the Reds will be paying $242 million over the next 11 seasons.

Tigers sign Josh Thole to minors deal

Josh Thole
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The Tigers signed catcher Josh Thole to a minor league deal, per an announcement from the Double-A Erie SeaWolves on Friday. Thole is expected to report to Double-A Erie, where he’ll split time with starting catcher Jake Rogers.

Thole, 31, has not appeared in a major or minor league game since 2016. He signed a minors deal with the Diamondbacks back in 2017, but was sidelined through most of the season after undergoing hamstring surgery in April. He was released by the team during spring training and failed to catch on with another major league club through the first two months of the 2018 season.

While the veteran backstop hasn’t tested his skills in pro ball for several years now, he held his own during a short-lived run with the independent New Britain Bees of the Atlantic League. Over 17 games in 2018, Thole batted .317/.425/.367 with three extra-base hits and a .791 OPS in 75 plate appearances. He’s expected to serve as catching depth within the Tigers’ organization, but may yet work his way back to the majors if he can get his average back over the Mendoza Line again — a feat he hasn’t managed since 2015.