The hits keep coming

Cincinnati Reds batter Joey Votto hits a double against the New York Mets.  (REUTERS/Ray...

Cincinnati Reds batter Joey Votto hits a double against the New York Mets. (REUTERS/Ray Stubblebine)

BOB ELLIOTT, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:44 AM ET

Joey Votto has battled over the years.

From bugging coach Bob Smyth for extra time in the cage or not putting the hose away properly after watering Etobicoke’s Connorvale Park.

Like learning new positions in the Cincinnati Reds farm system for six seasons and facing closers like Francisco Rodriguez, Jonathan Broxton and Carlos Marmol with the game on the line the previous four seasons.

Now the Etobicoke first baseman is in another battle.

Padres closer Heath Bell, Rockies outfielder Carlos Gonzalez, Braves closer Billy Wagner, Washington third baseman Ryan Zimmerman and the Reds first baseman are battling in fan voting for the final spot on the National League roster in next Tuesday’s all-star game in Anaheim.

More than 22 million fans voted on mlb.com in the first 48 hours, with Votto holding the lead as of yesterday. The deadline is 4 p.m. on Thursday afternoon.

“Dusty Baker told me that his wife, Melissa, is developing carpal tunnel syndrome voting for me,” Votto said from Citi Field in New York.

“The first day was difficult (when he didn’t make the all-star team), making it meant a lot to me,” Votto said. “I was shocked and disappointed. I got my complaints off my chest, now I have a great opportunity to be selected Thursday.

“If not, I’ll be disappointed again and move on.”

The first-place Reds have mustered voting masses better than any back-room rainmaker.

The Vote Votto Lunch takes place Wednesday at Great American Ball Park hosted by Better Off Red blogger Jamie Ramsey. Fans are encouraged to stop by for a free lunch and non-stop online voting, as they can vote 25 times a day.

Boog Powell (1966) is the only player in the top five of his league’s hitting, homers and RBIs categories at the break to not make the all-star team, according to Elias Sports Bureau.

The Reds teamed with the Red Sox in an American League alliance to engage Sox fans to support Votto. The Reds are asking their fans to support Boston’s Kevin Youkilis, a Cincinnati native.

Votto leads in homers (21), total bases (173), on-base percentage (.418), slugging (.599) and home run ratio (1/13.8 at-bats) going into Tuesday.

“Vote Votto” billboards sprung up in Cincinnati: on highways, at fountain square and US Bank Arena.

“I had no idea what was going on in Cincinnati, it’s not something I controlled,” Votto said.

The Reds wore Vote Votto T-shirts for batting practice with balls which had Vote Votto, thanks to clubhouse manager Rick Stowe.

“I’ll try my best to hit every one of them out during BP,” said Votto, who is third in NL hitting (.318) and among the top five in 11 offensive categories and the top 10 in 15 categories.

The MVP candidate was fifth in voting behind Cardinals’ Albert Pujols (4,380,669) and Phillies’ Ryan Howard (1,693,134), who both made the team. He was behind Braves’ Troy Glaus (1,265,126) and Brewers’ Prince Fielder (1,215,876) with 1,145,883 votes.

Local businesses at Kings Island, Champion Windows and fast food outlets were asked to show Vote Votto on marquees. E-mail blasts were sent to fans while Reds radio affiliates and FOX Sports Ohio ran Vote Votto promos. A Reds media relations intern competition is underway to see who can vote the most for Votto.

The most exciting game at Rogers Centre in 2009 was during the World Baseball Classic when Canada played Team USA.

The best wearing red and white was Votto, who took the GO train to play, going 4-for-5, including a two-run homer and a double.

The most poignant moment may have been Votto in the first-base dugout in June explaining an anxiety attack dealing with his father Joe’s death (“I got to the point where I thought I was going to die, really).”

Now, he could use your help.

All it takes is a few clicks.

bob.elliott@sunmedia.ca


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