Reds first baseman Joey Votto spent nearly a month on the disabled list with a quadriceps injury suffered in mid-May and now, after hitting just .250 with a .699 OPS in 23 games since returning, the former MVP is headed back to the disabled list with the same injury.
Cincinnati used backup catcher Brayan Pena as the primary first baseman during Votto’s previous DL stint, but he lacks any sort of offensive upside and … well, hits like a backup catcher.
Last night Pena was unavailable due to being on paternity leave, so the Reds sacrificed some defense by shifting Jay Bruce from right field to first base and used Skip Schumaker in right field.
There’s no great in-house solution to replace Votto because the Reds obviously weren’t planning to be without their $225 million franchise player for long stretches, but replacing his production this season won’t be as tough as years past. Votto has continued to get on base at a very strong clip thanks to his excellent plate discipline, but he’s hit just .255 with six homers and a .409 slugging percentage in 62 games overall and his .799 OPS is 151 points below his career mark.
At age 31 he’s being paid just $12 million this season, but Votto is owed another $213 million from 2015-2023.
The World Series champion Red Sox are scheduled to visit President Trump in the White House on February 15. Some have speculated that manager Álex Cora, who is from Puerto Rico and has been critical of Trump and has been a big factor in Hurricane Maria relief efforts, might not go as a form of protest. Thus far, nothing concrete has been reported on that front.
However, third baseman Rafael Devers says he isn’t going to join the Red Sox on their visit to the White House, Evan Drellich of NBC Sports Boston reports. Devers would prefer to focus on baseball, as the Red Sox open spring training on February 13 and position players have to report on February 17. Per Chris Mason, Devers also said via a translator, “The opportunity was presented and I just wasn’t compelled to go.”
Devers hails from the Dominican Republic and he, like many of Major League Baseball’s foreign-born player base, might not be happy about Trump’s immigration policies. Understandably, he is being tight-lipped about his motivation, but it wouldn’t be surprising if Devers is making a silent protest by choosing not to attend. He is thus far the only member of the team to bow out.
Devers, 22, hit .240/.298/.433 with 21 home runs, 66 RBI, and 59 runs scored in 490 plate appearances last season.
Last year, when the Astros visited Trump at the White House, they did so without Carlos Correa and Carlos Beltrán. Both are from Puerto Rico. It is certainly not unprecedented for individual players to opt out of the White House visit.
No word yet on what food will be served during Boston’s trip to the nation’s capital, but the smart money is on hamberders.