Joey Votto is just a phone call away from joining the Cincinnati Reds.
A two-time Futures Game participant, Votto is biding his time at Class AAA Louisville, where the first baseman is batting .315 with 11 home runs and 50 RBI with 10 stolen bases in 83 games. Throw in 50 walks and the lefthanded hitter has compiled a .412 on-base percentage.
"The Reds haven't said anything to me about their plans," Votto said. "That's their decision. I'm just here to play and keep improving."
Although the Reds are tied with the Washington Nationals for the worst record in the major leagues and already have summoned righthander Homer Bailey, Votto says he has not been given any indication when or if he will be summoned.
The 23-year-old isn't just a one-hit wonder. Votto was Class AA Southern League MVP last season, batting .319 with 46 doubles, 22 homers and 77 RBI at Chattanooga.
Votto homered in the sixth inning of the Futures Game, but doesn't feel that will make much of a difference when the Reds call him up.
"I don't think something like this makes a big difference with the Reds decision," he said. "They see me play all the time and they know how I play and what I'm about. I don't think hitting a home run today makes that big of a difference.
"The only thing that may affect their decision is whether or not I handled the magnifying glass, the spotlight in front of cameras on a big league stage and if you handle yourself well that can speak for itself.
To improve his versatility, the 6-3, 220-pounder has been playing some left field, which could come into play if Cincinnati trades regular left fielder Adam Dunn by the trade deadline.
"If it happens, it happens," Votto said. "I want to keep getting better; my fielding, hitting, strikeouts. I want to cut down on my strikeouts."
While Votto, a native of Toronto, would love to join 2007 first-time Canadian-born All-Stars Justin Morneau and Russell Martin in the major leagues, he's not focued on his heritage.
"I don't think of myself as a Canadian necessarily. I do recognize I'm Canadian," Votto said. "I'm a baseball player with the Cincinnati Reds. This is the uniform I wear. I'm happy to be Canadian. I grew up there. I'm a Cincinnati Red first and foremost. ... I'm a Cincinnati Red, so I'm just trying to help them win games. I just hope they're ready to call me up so I can help do that.
Votto marvels at having icon Ken Griffey Jr. around to learn from.
"You just watch what he does. He's fun to be around," Votto said. "He's a great guy, too. He's always prepared. Like I said, I don't know the guy, but just seeing the way players interact with him all the time and get along with him, he's just awesome. He has a special hitter's stroke and you don't ever teach that."
Despite all of his successes, Votto has had to overcome one obstacle this season. He was experiencing blurry vision in his right eye early in the season, went to the doctors, was given contacts and soon after embarked on a 17-game hitting streak.
"I don't know what happened to my eyes. I couldn't see out of my right eye," Votto said. "I could see, but it wasn't clear vision. I had an optometrist take a look at it and they said I had bad vision and you've got to put contacts in, so they wrote a prescription and it worked out OK.
"Yeah, how about that (hitting streak). It's funny how these things work. I see great afterwards. I don't want to necessarily say that it has everything to do with my contacts, but it does have something to do with my eyesight. I thought I was going to come around anyways, but I see the ball now."
That correction has allowed Votto to put his sights firmly on the major leagues.