Originally posted on Fox Sports Ohio  |  Last updated 4/27/12
CINCINNATI Joey Votto strolled into the clubhouse past Scott Rolen's locker, his clothes a mismatched wrinkled mess. "Look at that, 225 million and he comes to the park in his pajamas? Hey, Joey, did you sleep in those?" Votto smiled and said, "I'm a bipolar dresser." Some are saying right now that the Cincinnati Reds first baseman is a bipolar hitter because he has struck out a team-leading 23 times in 69 at-bats, but has walked a league-leading 19 times and is third in the league in on-base average at .432. What concerned parties don't remember is that Votto had about the same number of strikeouts at this point of the 2010 season and before 2010 was over Votto was National League Most Valuable Player. And there is some grass roots concern because Votto, a career .313 hitters, is only hitting .273 with one homer and 10 RBIs. He is tied for the league lead in doubles with eight. Worrying about the well-being of Votto's bat is something on which manager Dusty Baker wastes zero time. Is it struggling when you reach base at least once in 19 of 20 games? It is like when one of Abraham Lincoln's aides asked what they were going to do about Gen. Ulysses S. Grant's alcohol consumption and Lincoln said, "Find out what brand he drinks and give it to all our generals." "He knows he is going to hit, we know he is going to hit and you know he is going to hit," said Baker. Baker, though, does wonder about the strikeouts when asked if it was unVotto-like. "Yeah, it is, this high of a number this early," he said. "But our team is prone to strikeouts and how many did he have last year?" Votto struck out 129 times in 599 at-bats, but also led the league in walks with 110 while hitting .309 with 29 homers, 103 RBIs and a league-leading 40 doubles. During his 2010 MVP year, Votto struck out 125 times and walked 91 times while hitting .324 with 37 homers and 113 RBIs. "Strikeouts come in streaks, just like everything else," said Baker. "It seems like every time he bats right now he has two strikes on him and it is hard to hit like that. "What happens is you take a close pitch and it seems every pitch is called a strike and then he'll foul off a pitch and the next thing you know it is 0-and-2," Baker added. "This is the stuff that happens when you're not going good yet." Baker paused to reflect and added, "We're just not used to seeing him struggle like this. It happens to everybody who has ever played this game. Did anybody think Albert Pujols would struggle the way he has (0 for 19 at one point with no homers for the year) for this long?" Baker, always looking for the green grass among the weeds, said Votto's walks will come to his aid. "One thing walks will do for you is that you see so many pitches that you get your timing and vision through seeing so many pitches," he said. "The more pitches you see the better your timing gets." It was a typical 2012 night for Votto on Friday during a 6-4 loss to the Houston Astros. In his first at-bat he took a called third strike after battling left hander Wandy Rodriguez to a 3-and-2 count. In his second at-bat he worked the count to 3-and-2 again an walked. In his third at-bat, he battled Wandy Rodriguez for 12 pitches before he banged a run-scoring double to left center on the 13th, an unlucky delivery for Rodriguez. In his fourth at-bat against right handed relief pitcher Fernando Rodriguez, he fell behind 0-and-2 with a runner on third, then grounded out to third on the seventh pitch of the at-bat. All in a night's work for Joey Votto.
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