Reds could have saved on medical expenses

BOB ELLIOTT

, Last Updated: 9:41 AM ET

Skilled doctors and specialists in San Diego and Cincinnati poked and prodded Joey Votto this week trying to find the cause of his dizziness.

Eventually, on Thursday Reds internist Dr. Stephen Cleves diagnosed the Etobicoke first baseman with an inner-ear infection, the after-effects of a flu which sidelined him for four games. He has been limited to 12 at-bats since May 6.

Wendy Votto, his mom, knew the problem all along.

"Probably an inner-ear infection," Wendy guessed earlier this week before her son's mysterious ailment, causing him to be removed from two games, was diagnosed.

"My sister, Peggy, had an inner-ear infection several years ago. It caused vertigo, she was light-headed, dizzy and had to lay down all the time."

All of which proves not that Wendy Votto is either a trained medical expert or someone who stayed at a Holiday Inn Express, but is a mother ... and mommas always know best.

Wendy won't be accepting new patients as she's busy enough as the sommelier at the Via Allegro Ristorante in Etobicoke.

Votto, hitting .366, returns to the lineup tonight when the Reds are home to the Cleveland Indians.

SNIDER DEMOTED

Travis Snider being demoted by the Blue Jays this week is not a huge cause for alarm. In 1994, Carlos Delgado, signed out of Puerto Rico by scout Epy Guerrero, before the island's players were draft-eligible, started white hot. At one point in April, Delgado, then 22, had more homers than singles. Pitchers figured him out and he was at triple-A Syracuse in May.

Snider, 21, was fast-tracked and pitchers figured him out in his first 99 at-bats -- 25 strikeouts. It was and still is an excellent draft pick by scouting director Jon Lalonde.

This is not Russ Adams re-visited. Adams had an "average arm" when the Jays made him their No. 1 pick in 2002. Adams was demoted and saw the big leagues again, but never saw shortstop on a regular basis.

Snider will be back from triple-A Las Vegas shortly.

FILL YOUR POCKETS

With five picks in the first 104 selections when the draft begins June 9, Lalonde will be a busy man. The Jays select 20th, 37th, 68th, 99th and 104th in the first three rounds.

The two extra picks are compensation for losing Type A free-agent A.J. Burnett to the New York Yankees.

ART WORK

A new picture hangs in Cito Gaston's office at Rogers Centre entitled "The four best managers in Blue Jays history."

In the picture are Michael Firestone, Gaston, Bobby Cox and Paul Beeston in the dugout.

Underneath the captain reads "two in the dugout, one in the office and one in the air."

At the 1989 American League Championship gala in Oakland a woman from the Oakland Tribune's society page was making the rounds when she encountered the talkative Firestone.

Asked how the Oakland party would compare to the one in Toronto, Firestone told her it would be better but everyone would be wearing tuques and the snow drifts would he knee high. Asked what he did for the Jays, Beeston's dear friend answered "team pilot."

As Firestone's friend Drayton McLane, owner of the Houston Astros, says: "Michael is the only man on earth who has never put a cent into a ball club and thinks he runs two teams."

D TRAIN

As a ball scribe you are supposed to be immune to the outcome of games and not care who wins or loses. Yet, you can't help but be happy for Detroit Tigers lefty Dontrelle Willis, who scored his first win in 20 months by pitching 61/3 shutout innings Tuesday against Texas.

No one was more fun to watch than Willis with the Florida Marlins when they beat the Yankees to win the 2003 World Series. He struggled since joining the Tigers.

ECK CAN DO IT

When it was time to be eligible for the Hall of Fame for Cooperstown, Dennis Eckersley was a hybrid: 197 wins, 390 saves as a reliever. He was inducted along with Paul Molitor in 2004.

After hearing the former Boston starter and Oakland closer broadcast the Jays-Red Sox there was no doubt Eckersley, who invented the term "walkoff" would have been elected as an announcer. Normally a studio analyst, he excelled during game action.

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THE BOOK ON ...

Blue Jays shortstop MARCO SCUTARO

What a major-league scout says ... "He's an average fielder, an average hitter and a so-so runner, but he plays way above his tools. He's a ball player, a definite ball player. He knows how to win, he'll take a pitch for a walk -- and he takes more now that he's leading off -- he'll hit the ball behind the runner, he can drop a bunt. He has shown more power than usual but that will level off as the season progresses.

"He's the same player he was in Oakland, he started over 100 games in 2004 at second. He's not really a tools guy. He does not do one thing that makes you jump out of your seat. You have to watch him for an extended period to get a proper sense of the player he is. He's a skills guy.

"He plays above what he has, he's a winning-type player."

Weakness: "He's not good runner and doesn't have a real strong arm. He gets a lot out of what he has.

"He's a lot like David Eckstein used to be."

Strengths: "He has a great feel for the game, he understands it. Unlike Manny Lee, if he hits a homer the residue is not a 2-for-21 slump. Most times, he plays a little man's style, which helps you win."

Season Stats

AB AVG. R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB

159 .283 36 45 10 1 5 20 3

Sun Rating: 3 out of 5

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THE TOP 5

TOPIC GOES RIGHT HERE

And you thought that the Jays had a young rotation. Check out the Nationals staff, which has combined for 21 big-league wins in 65 starts.

JOHN LANNAN

46 starts

13-20, 3.96 ERA

Age 24

46 games

SHAIRON MARTIS

12 starts

6-3, 4.87 ERA

Age 22

13 games

JORDAN ZIMMERMAN

6 starts

2-1, 6.35 ERA

Age 23 today

6 games

ROSS DETWILER

1 start

0-0, 3.60 ERA

Age 23

2 games

CRAIG STAMMEN

1 start

0-0, 5.68 ERA

Age 25

1 game

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NORTHERN LIGHTS

RENE TOSONI, COQUITLAM, B.C.

OF, DOUBLE-A NEW BRITAIN

Tosoni was the best week of the 75 Canadians in the minors.

Drafted by the late Jim Ridley of the Minnesota Twins in the 34th round in 2004, the former Coquitlam Red hit .500 (8-for-16) with two homers and six RBIs. He's hitting .263 with six homers and 20 RBIs.

RUNNERS-UP: Chris Dennis, Amherstburg, Ont., .467 at class-A Wisconsin (Brewers); Jordan Lennerton, Langley B.C., .400, with eight RBIs, class-A West Michigan (Tigers); Calgary's James Henderson three saves, Wisconsin and Taylor Green, Comox, B.C., .400, Wisconsin.

WEGLARZ ON ROLL

Nick Weglarz from Stevensville, Ont. earned player of the week honours in the Double-A Eastern League hitting .458 (11-for-24) with Akron (Indians). He had three doubles, a homer and eight RBIs. He had a game-winning, eighth inning three-run homer at Altoona for a 5-3 win and two two-hit games in a doubleheader. The Team Ontario graduate scored six times and had seven walks with a .708 slugging percentage, reaching base in each of the eight played.


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