CHICAGO -- Being back in the Reds starting lineup again on Tuesday for the first time since Aug. 8 wasn't just good for Joey Votto the first baseman. It was a shot in the arm and a return to normalcy for a grieving son. Votto returned to the team on Saturday from the bereavement list following the sudden passing of his father, Joe. "Obviously, the last week was hard," Votto said at his locker on Tuesday before the Reds played the Cubs. "Being around the guys is a real good distraction. It's helped take my mind off everything. I love what I do. It's a good opportunity to do what my dad would have wanted me to do."
Until Tuesday, Votto had not spoken publicly about his father's death. During his time away, he had requested that the reason for his departure from the team be kept private. After Votto's bereavement reached the seven-day limit, he came back from Canada and rejoined the roster by rule. But he was given more time to ease his way back by manager Dusty Baker. In both games on Saturday and Sunday against the Cardinals, Votto appeared once as a pinch-hitter. He notched an RBI single on Sunday. The 25-year-old entered Tuesday batting .281 with 14 home runs and 54 RBIs. He was hitting .375 (12-for-40) over his previous 12 games, and was slotted in the fifth spot in the lineup against the Cubs on Tuesday. "I got plenty of stuff in Saturday and Sunday, without a doubt," Votto said. "I did a lot of extra everything. I'm really happy I got those two pinch-hit at-bats." Now it's back to work, full time. Votto also had fun with his teammates and played some cards during down time. Votto's father was a chef for a nursing home back in the Toronto area and kept close tabs on his son's career. "This was important to him," Votto said. "I think he said he watched almost every game. It was part of his routine every day. He'd go to work. My dad was a hard worker -- one of those guys that did it every single day. He'd come home and look forward to watching me every day."
Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.