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Joey Votto back with the Cincinnati Reds after COVID-19 battle

Sep 23, 2020; Cincinnati, Ohio, USA; Cincinnati Reds first baseman Joey Votto (19) reacts as he rounds the bases after hitting a two-run home run against the Milwaukee Brewers during the first inning at Great American Ball Park. Mandatory Credit: David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 23, 2020; Cincinnati, Ohio, USA; Cincinnati Reds first baseman Joey Votto (19) reacts as he rounds the bases after hitting a two-run home run against the Milwaukee Brewers during the first inning at Great American Ball Park. Mandatory Credit: David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

Cincinnati Reds star Joey Votto returned to the team on Sunday after a battle with COVID-19, but it remains unclear when he will be ready to play.

Votto, 37, left the team after a positive test on March 10 and has been in self-isolation. The first baseman was cleared by Major League Baseball but will remain on the injured list until he’s fit to play.

“I feel good,” Votto said at the team’s spring training complex in Goodyear Ariz. “I’m glad to be back, and I’m looking forward to putting the uniform on and joining the team. I miss playing ball, I miss being part of the group.”

The six-time All-Star wasn’t interested in discussing his bout with the coronavirus and declined to reveal what he did while in quarantine.

“It’s not a subject that I really want to talk about,” Votto said. “I don’t even know if I had a split second where you’re like, ‘should I opt out?’ I didn’t even have that. Not being able to come to the ballpark and put my uniform on and not play ball and be a part of the team, I just couldn’t imagine taking that choice. This came with it. This is part of the risks. I’m glad I’m back. I’m grateful.

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“I received a lot of support, not only from friends and colleagues and coworkers, I got a lot of support from people I’ve never met before. I’m thankful and grateful. Our staff was great. (Head athletic trainer) Steve Baumann was outstanding. He took great care of me. Our doctors also, I always felt cared for. I really appreciated that. I wanted to say that out loud.

“When you’re going through something new and you have great support, you feel lucky. Thanks to everybody.”

Votto batted just .226 in 54 games last season in the shortened 60-game campaign. He had 11 homers and drove in 22 runs.

He enters his 15th season just five blasts away from 300 for his career. He has a .304 average and 966 RBIs.

Votto was 4-of-9 in four games before leaving the team and is hoping to recapture his past form.

“I’m looking forward to feeling sharp with the bat, of course, feeling like I’m dangerous, and making sure I’m healthy and strong and able to play as often as possible,” Votto said. “That’s the goal, and I felt like I was trending in that direction, so I have to get there and beyond.”

Related: If you’re a fan of the Reds, check out #Reds rumors, rankings, and news here.

–Field Level Media