Toronto Blue Jays' Joey Votto Starts Long-Awaited Minor League Rehab Assignment

Longtime Cincinnati Reds slugger Joey Votto has yet to play for his hometown Toronto Blue Jays due to an ankle injury he suffered in March, but he could be nearing a return to the big leagues.
Mar 17, 2024; Clearwater, Florida, USA; Toronto Blue Jays infielder Joey Votto (37) is congratulated after hitting a home run against the Philadelphia Phillies during the first inning at BayCare Ballpark.
Mar 17, 2024; Clearwater, Florida, USA; Toronto Blue Jays infielder Joey Votto (37) is congratulated after hitting a home run against the Philadelphia Phillies during the first inning at BayCare Ballpark. / Mandatory Credit: Dave Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

After three full months of waiting, Joey Votto has finally returned to the diamond.

The Toronto Blue Jays sent the veteran slugger on a rehab assignment to the Florida Complex League on Monday. Votto, who has been out with an ankle injury since March 17, entered the FCL Blue Jays' game against the FCL Phillies in the fourth inning.

Votto flied out to center in each of his first two at-bats, but capped things off with a sacrifice fly in the ninth inning. The 40-year-old logged 4.1 innings at first base as well.

It marked Votto's first taste game action since Spring Training. He rolled his right ankle in the dugout during his Grapefruit League debut, right after he blasted a solo home run off of Philadelphia Phillies ace Zack Wheeler.

Votto signed a minor league contract with the Blue Jays on March 8 following a full offseason spent in free agency.

The only reason Votto was on the open market to begin with was because the Cincinnati Reds declined their club option on one of the franchise's best players in November. Votto ranked No. 5 in hits, No. 4 in WAR, No. 3 in RBI, No. 2 in doubles and No. 2 in home runs on the Reds' all-time leaderboards.

Votto is a career .294 hitter with a .920 OPS and a 64.5 WAR, making six All-Star appearances and winning NL MVP back in 2010. In 65 games last year, Votto hit .202 with 14 home runs, 38 RBI, a .747 OPS and a -0.1 WAR while nursing a shoulder injury.

While it may take a little more time before the Blue Jays actually recall Votto, some of their recent roster moves have cleared up room for him on the big league roster. Toronto recently designated utility man Cavan Biggio and first baseman/designated hitter Daniel Vogelbach for assignment, trading Biggio to the Los Angeles Dodgers on June 12.

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Sam Connon

SAM CONNON

Sam Connon is a Staff Writer for Fastball on the Sports Illustrated/FanNation networks. He previously covered UCLA Athletics for Sports Illustrated/FanNation's All Bruins, 247Sports' Bruin Report Online, Rivals' Bruin Blitz, the Bleav Podcast Network and the Daily Bruin, with his work as a sports columnist receiving awards from the College Media Association and Society of Professional Journalists. Connon also wrote for Sports Illustrated/FanNation's New England Patriots site, Patriots Country, and he was on the Patriots and Boston Red Sox beats at Prime Time Sports Talk.