Humble Votto pats self on the back

BOB ELLIOTT, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:27 PM ET

ANAHEIM — Who is this all-star appearance for?

“For myself,” Etobicoke’s Joey Votto said. “when I was named to the team, I mentioned this would have meant a lot to my late father, it means so much to my former coach Bob Smyth and my family, but hey I’ve done pretty good — time to pat myself on the back.”

The comments are out of the ordinary for the Cincinnati Reds first baseman, who battled depression in 2009 after the death of his father, also named Joe, and was never an all-state, all-conference or all-American.

He has never been one to laud himself. He has always been humble.

“My rookie year I hit three home runs at Wrigley,” Votto told reporters. “A week later I’m thinking: ‘I might never hit three in a game again.’ Instead of enjoying my three-homer day moment, I was dreading what had happened, worrying if it would ever happen again.

“I’m going to enjoy these next couple of days and move on with the season.”

Scouts say baseball is not a game for “worriers” and Votto can worry with the best of them, just as he has hit with the best of them, Votto is tied for the National League lead in homers (22) and leads in on-base percentage (.422), slugging (.589) and OPS (1.011).

“I’m not a tremendous judge of batting practice prowess,” Reds third baseman Scott Rolen said, “but my best bolt to left field as a right-handed hitter is now where as deep as his best to left — as a left-handed hitter.

“He has a strong swing, but more important he wants to be a good player. He works.”

The surprising Reds hit the break in first. The perfect injection into a young team with doubts.

“Some people may say because of my numbers, I’m the MVP of the Reds,” Votto said. “but Rolen is the most important. He has won before, he has been there. He knows when it gets tough going that this ship will not sink.”

Votto battled depression a year ago, a byproduct of his father’s death.

“I haven’t heard from other people with depression, I’m not sure what I would tell them would resonate with them,” Votto said. “Everyone is different. It would be naive for me to tell someone: ‘Don’t worry, I’ve been through that.’ ”

“Who is the best Canadian player in baseball?” Votto was asked.

“Justin Morneau,” he answered quickly.

“The only reason Justin is not here is because he has a concussion, he has won an MVP honour and he’s an MVP candidate every year,” Votto said

Votto may be patting his back a little more than usual, but he still gave Morneau the proper respect.


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