Superstar Reds first baseman Joey Votto has hit a surprisingly poor .233/.333/.314 in 102 plate appearances this year while walking less than usual and striking out at a rate higher than normal. Votto, who’s making $20MM this season and is owed up to $192MM from 2017-2024, is embarrassed by his early season performance and told C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer that he’d rather retire and forfeit the money than stick around and fail to produce. “I’m here to play and be part of setting a standard. It’s something I’ve always taken pride in,” he said. “I love to play at a really high level. So far this year, it’s not been that. I will not be a very satisfied, happy person if I don’t perform at the level that I expect.” The 32-year-old Votto, a career .309/.421/.529 hitter, is coming off a 7.4-fWAR season, so he seems like a prime candidate to return to form as 2016 progresses. “I signed up for a high-level of performance. I didn’t sign up for this just to make money,” he added.
And now for some news on a pair of Cincinnati’s division rivals…
- There was a report Saturday stating that the Cardinals gave right-hander Carlos Martinez permission to leave the team Friday because of a civil lawsuit he’s facing in Florida. Now there’s more details on that suit, courtesy of TMZ (link via Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com). The woman suing Martinez is seeking upward of $1.5MM in damages for battery, negligent transmission of sexually transmitted diseases and fraud. She and Martinez have had an on-again, off-again relationship since 2012, according to her. As of Saturday, the Cardinals were in the process of determining whether the allegations against Martinez will lead to an investigation by Major League Baseball under its domestic violence rules. Martinez rejoined the Cardinals after his brief departure and started their game today.
- The Pirates will ease shortstop/third baseman Jung Ho Kang back into their lineup when he returns soon from a left knee injury, general manager Neal Huntington said Sunday (link via Adam Berry of MLB.com). That could mean starting Kang two of every three games and using him as a pinch hitter or defensive replacement when he’s not in the lineup, Huntington suggested. Kang has amassed 32 at-bats during his rehab stint with Triple-A Indianapolis, and he could rejoin the Pirates once he gets anywhere from 45 to 60.
- Cardinals shortstop Jhonny Peralta is progressing quickly in his recovery from left thumb surgery in March and could return to the majors later this month, reports Langosch. Peralta fielded grounders at short Sunday for the first time since the surgery, and the club currently plans for him to start a rehab assignment May 21. The Cardinals haven’t missed Peralta nearly as much as expected because of the virtuoso performance Aledmys Diaz has turned in at short, which means they’ll have to find a way to play both when Peralta returns. “What he’s doing, he needs to be on the team,” Peralta said of Diaz, who has hit .417/.447/.722 with four homers in the first 76 PAs of his big league career.