Notes: Votto proves his skills in 2007
Rookie will compete for starting first base job next spring
By Mark Sheldon / MLB.com
CINCINNATI -- Joey Votto didn't need a solid September to prove he belonged with the Reds.
Votto already knew. That's not him being cocky or arrogant -- just confident. The 24-year-old never seemed intimidated by the Major Leagues, not even for a nanosecond.
"I thought I was ready for this for a while," said Votto, who was called up for the first time on Sept. 4. "I still think I'm ready for this. I will continue to get my work in every day and do what I know I can do. I'm not surprised in the least with what I'm doing, honestly. Whether or not I've succeeded beyond people's expectations, is their opinion. I don't think I'm playing anywhere near different than what I can play."
Votto entered the day batting .329 (25-for-76) with three home runs, 12 RBIs and a .526 slugging percentage in 22 games. He started his fifth game in left field on Saturday vs. the Cubs and has 15 starts at his natural position -- first base.
"Very well," interim manager Pete Mackanin said when asked for his evaluation of Votto's month. "When he first got here he said, 'I'm' just going to keep my mouth shut and ears open.' That's exactly what he's done. He's done his work. He's been very professional and I think he's made a very good impression -- at least on me. I think he's got a future."
One of the Reds' top position prospects, Votto batted .292 with 22 homers, 92 RBIs and 17 stolen bases this season at Triple-A Louisville.
"He's very confident in his ability and it shows," Mackanin said. "It's an important ingredient to succeed at this level. You have to believe you can succeed at this level and that you belong here. I think he's starting to feel he belongs here."
Votto felt that his first big league exposure helped him see a little bit of everything.
"I've faced some of the tougher pitchers in the league," said Votto, a Toronto native. "I played in atmospheres that aren't necessarily playoff or us leading the division atmospheres, but we played against people that every game mattered to them. To be in that atmosphere in the big leagues against the division leaders is important."
Votto's ascension has increased the likelihood that veteran first baseman Scott Hatteberg's $1.85 club option for 2008 won't be picked up. That should put Votto on the inside track for the everyday first base job next spring.
"I've come to expect to be a Major Leaguer," Votto said. "I don't think there's a guy in this room that thinks otherwise. I think I'm going to come to Spring Training next year expecting to earn a job."
Hopper hurt: Center fielder Norris Hopper left Saturday's game after the top of the first inning because of a sore right groin. Hopper, who has been bothered lately with the injury, tried to make a play at the fence on Geovany Soto's ground-rule double.
Buck Coats pinch-hit for Hopper in the leadoff spot in the bottom of the first and remained in the game in center field.
Bruce to visit: Another Reds' top position prospect, outfielder Jay Bruce, will be at Sunday's game --- but not to play in the season finale vs. the Cubs. Bruce, the Baseball America Minor League Player of the Year, will be recognized during a pregame ceremony on the field.
Griffey field: The Reds Community Fund announced Saturday that Field One at Weaver Park will be renamed Ken Griffey Jr. Field. Griffey has been a longtime contributor to the RCF and its youth field renovation programs, which provide new dugouts, benches and improved playing surfaces.
Two million: The Reds welcomed their two millionth fan of the season to Great American Ball Park on Saturday. It's the fourth time in the five-year old facility's history that the two million fan mark has been reached.
One more game: Homer Bailey (3-2, 5.67) will start the Reds' 2007 finale against the Cubs and Ted Lilly (15-8, 3.86) Sunday at 1:15 p.m. ET.