After Brandon Drury hit an infield single and Tommy Pham walked against Nationals starting pitcher Joan Adon, Votto — serving as the designated hitter — fouled off a 1-0 fastball. As he re-entered the batter’s box, the television broadcast spotted the 38-year-old look toward third-base coach J.R. House and distinctively mouth a prediction.
Votto fouled off the next pitch, a fastball, then took a changeup in the dirt to make it a 2-2 count. Another fastball was next from Adon, and it wasn’t missed. Votto slugged a three-run home run to right field for a 3-0 Reds lead.
“I did.” Votto admitted when asked if he called his shot. “But it’s no good. I missed the first two. I was talking about that particular pitch and I missed it. So it doesn’t count.”
What made Votto feel like a home run was coming?
“I just thought I was going to homer,” he said. “Just a feel, it’s hard to explain … AND YOU DO IT!”
Since returning May 20 after missing 15 games with COVID-19, Votto has three homers and 10 RBIs in 12 games. Before he went out, he was batting .122 with no homers and one double through 22 games
“Joey works so hard. I always say that Joey is like a sink-or-swim guy or adapt-or-die,” Reds shortstop Kyle Farmer said. “He’s changing with the times. I’ve never seen someone do that as well as he’s doing. He works his butt off in the cage. He comes in every day and works his butt off. And it’s showing right now. He’s just a smart hitter and a confident hitter. When he’s hitting, our team is doing well.”
Votto, who is batting .179/.328/.330 overall, doesn’t feel like he’s over the hump yet.
“I have like a month to make up for,” he said. “I’m still hitting sub .200. But it’s coming. I feel good. It’ll come fast. Very fast.”