CINCINNATI -- Reds first baseman Joey Votto has kept a low profile from the media since he went on the disabled list a second time July 8 with a distal strain of his left quadriceps.
That doesn't mean Votto hasn't been paying attention to the developing public perception that questions his injury or his desire to resume playing. On Thursday, the former National League MVP and four-time All-Star spoke up, and pushed back.
"Let's make it clear here -- I think there's been a real gray area and I feel like I've been the one in the crosshairs -- I've been injured," Votto said. "I feel like this is something I've had hanging over me in the general population, the fans, I think it's a toughness, or playing through pain sort of thing, or playing hurt sort of thing. I've been injured. I played injured. I went on the DL because I'm injured. I'm trying to be un-injured now.
"So the second I'm capable of playing and I'm no longer injured, I'll be back on the field. In the meantime, you can assume I'm injured. I shouldn't get some sort of different treatment, as if this is ... I've noticed little comments here and there and just a general perception that this is something I elected to do. I didn't elect to be injured. I am injured. People get injured. … What can I do? At some point I'll be back playing like I was playing before."
Some of the backlash could be attributed to Votto not saying much about his progress, or with the lack of information given by him about his injury. Votto made clear he wished he could be back on the field to help a Reds team that has struggled greatly without him, and Brandon Phillips, since the All-Star break.
"It doesn't feel very good and it has been frustrating. I wish I was on the field doing my part helping the team out," Votto said. "Unfortunately I'm not able to and I'm trying to get to a point where I can come back and help out and play like everyone's used to me playing. I'm not there yet."
Votto is eligible for activation on Sept. 4 from the 60-day DL, but has yet to resume baseball activities. He was cleared to begin jogging Thursday and had a positive strength test performed recently. What's missing is a timetable.
"Certainly over the course of this homestand, we'll get a lot better feel for where he is and if he's ready to resume baseball activities or not," Reds manager Bryan Price said.
Price maintained that he expects Votto to return to the Reds sometime in September. When asked about when he might return, Votto couldn't answer.
"I don't know right now," he said. "I'm doing everything I can to get back on the field as soon as possible."