The Cincinnati Reds closed out the home portion of their regular season schedule on Sunday afternoon with a game against the Pittsburgh Pirates. For longtime first baseman Joey Votto, the contest had added significance since it could mark the final time he plays a home game, in Cincinnati or otherwise.
Votto, 40, is in the final guaranteed year of his contract. The Reds hold a $20 million club option on his services for next season, but that includes a $7 million buyout that seems more likely than not to be exercised. Votto, afterall, underwent shoulder surgery last August and has hit just .203/.306/.441 (97 OPS+) in 61 games with the big-league club this year.
Regardless of what happens this winter, the Cincinnati crowd made sure to let Votto know they appreciated him on Sunday by giving him a standing ovation prior to his first trip to the plate. Take a look:
And later, following a Votto single in the eighth inning, the crowd gave him another standing ovation as he was lifted for a pinch-runner:
Votto addressed the crowd after the game:
Votto was recently asked about if he had thoughts on this being his final homestand with the Reds, as well as what it meant for his future.
"I don't think about that. I've had moments where it's crossed my mind, and the nice thing about playing competitive ball is that you're thinking about today's game and performing well," Votto told reporters. "... As far as this being the last homestand, if that's the case, I can't do anything about that -- I don't want to say I can't do anything about that -- I just am having a really good time playing really meaningful baseball with some really fun teammates. So however it shakes out, I'm good. I'm good. I just want to help out. I just want to play. All I've ever wanted to do is play. It's the most important thing to me."
The Reds entered Sunday with a 79-77 record, putting them 2.5 games out of the National League wild-card picture. While the Reds have been one of the most pleasant surprises of the season, thanks in large part to their surplus of young position players, they suffered a devastating loss on Saturday night that saw them blow a 9-0 lead against these same Pirates.