CINCINNATI -- A lot has been made about Joey Votto's post All-Star Game comments concerning Marlon Byrd and the Cubs, but he pointed out that one thing has been missing from all the talk: context.
"I was laughing at the time," Votto said Friday. "The shame of it was, Marlon and I probably got along the best on the bench and in the outfield and stuff. I talked to him and I was one of the first to congratulate him in Chicago. So it was definitely taken out of context, and I was laughing when I said it."
Votto said he has the "utmost respect for the Cubs in general," before laughing and adding, "maybe not necessarily for the fans."
The controversy arose when Votto said after the All-Star Game that he would have a tough time congratulating a member of the Cubs, even after Byrd made a big defensive play by throwing out David Ortiz at second base from the outfield.
But Friday, Votto emphasized that he laughed when he said it, and that was again the case for much of the conversation before Friday's game. When asked about a YouTube video which surfaced and shows him turning down autograph requests from Cubs fans, Votto laughed and said he doesn't sign for Cubs fans.
"I think it's kind of fun to play the heel," Votto said. "Not everything has to be friendly, and we take it seriously whenever we go there. It's not just a game to us -- it's our job.
"When I first was called up in 2007, they won [the division title] on our field, and I still remember that now. I remember them looking at the scoreboard and Cubs fans cheering, everybody in the stands wearing blue. I still remember that, and it meant a lot to me. I guess I probably should let it go, but I'm not an easy forgiver."