Sunday, April 14, 2024
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WATCH: Joey Votto homers off Zack Wheeler on first pitch with Blue Jays after signing NRI with Toronto

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USATSI

A late signing this offseason, veteran first baseman Joey Votto took the field with the Blue Jays for the first time Sunday in spring training action. He didn’t waste any time endearing himself to his new teammates, either, as he was first-pitch swinging and, well, homering: 

It’s definitely weird seeing him in blue, but that swing looked plenty familiar. 

Votto was drafted out of high school by the Reds in 2002 and spent 17 big-league seasons with them. A career .294/.409/.511 (144 OPS+) hitter, he amassed 2,135 hits, 459 doubles, 356 home runs, 1,144 RBI and 1,171 runs in his Reds career. He contract with the Reds expired after last season and he sat around for most of the offseason unsigned. 

Several times through the offseason, he mentioned his desire to keep playing and was noticeably holding out hope some team would come calling, even as late as March 5. 

Finally, the Blue Jays signed him and it was the most fun option on the board. Votto was born and raised in Toronto. He even wore a Blue Jays bib as a baby. 

As for possibly breaking camp with the Jays, the plan the Jays made public is that Votto will start in the minors to continue getting up to speed due to his late start. Assuming he plays well enough to get a look, there might be an opening in the lineup if the Jays plan to use Justin Turner at third base. If Turner played first or served as the designated hitter, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. would be taking whatever else was left between first and DH. With Turner at third, however, it would make plenty of sense to have Votto available either as a part-time starter or just a bench bat. 

Regardless, it was pretty cool to see Votto homer for his childhood favorite team, even if the game was meaningless. 

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