Originally posted on Fox Sports Ohio  |  Last updated 2/24/12
GOODYEAR, Ariz. Joey Votto's first workout of the spring evoked this comment from teammate Scott Rolen after it was over: "That was the weakest first-day workout I've ever seen." Rolen, of course, was kidding. No Votto workout is ever weak. After the workout, though, Votto addressed something on the mind of every Cincinnati Reds fan: his future contract situation. Well, actually, he didn't address it. He didn't even put any kind of a stamp on it. But he did talk about it with style and a flourish. Votto has two more years on his contract, including 17 million next year (2013), after which he can become a free agent, unless the Reds re-sign him. Votto was asked if he believed what many fans believe: the Reds won't be able to afford him. The Reds have said they want to keep Votto and plan to make a run at him, but there is no need to do it at the present time. There is time for negotiations and time to see how much they can offer and for how long they make make it. "I'm going to make it simple for everybody," said the Reds' star first baseman. "I'm going to leave all that to the Reds' front office, my agent and myself. I'll try to keep it as private as possible. I don't think it is fair to any of the fans, I don't think it's fair to myself and it CERTAINLY is not fair to the team for that type of stuff to creep into the season." Clearly, Votto fears a distraction, both for him and for the team. "I don't want it to become a distraction," he said. "I plan some kind of comment if I happen to sign an extension with the Reds or if I happen to get to the point where I'm going into free agency. "Distraction is the biggest fear, because you know what? I'm human," he said. "It is distracting. As much as players want to say that it isn't a distraction, it is exhausting. It's a lingering issue. The team knows about it, the fans know about it, management knows about it and the bottom line is that with our system every player has the right to say yes or no. It is clearly my decision." Votto doesn't want public debate or to make it radio talk show fodder or blogtwitter food. "When the public gets a handle on it I think it can really turn bad. And I don't want that," said Votto. "I'm in a lucky spot. I signed a three-year contract last year and I have another year on my deal after this year. I'm in a position where I don't really have to comment on a contract because I'm in the midst of one." Then he paused and smiled broadly before saying, "Prince Fielder sure got a lot of money, didn't he?" Oh, yes. The Brewers first baseman signed with Detroit for 214 million for the next nine years." Votto thought gave no hint that those numbers land inside his own ball park. He was, uh, just thinking out loud. Votto, the National League MVP in 2010, hit .309 last year with 29 homers and 103 RBI. It was his fifth straight year hitting .297 or higher (four times over .300), second straight year over 100 RBI and fourth straight year of 24 or more home runs. While winning the MVP was a career achievement, it was another distraction Votto talked about. This off-season he didn't have the duties required of an MVP. "It was a really nice off-season, a little less hectic," he said. "It's a lot to deal with. So I spent the right amount of time training for the season. I got a lot of rest." And Votto is ecstatic over the moves the Reds made to add pieces. "I'm very happy about it," he said. "The front office did a tremendous job. It seems to be the trend here starting two years ago when we picked up Scott Rolen. We made a big splash getting Aroldis Chapman and then we get guys like Mat Latos, Ryan Madson, Ryan Ludwick and a few other pick-ups. "I'm sure we took some chances, but I think we got a pretty good return for the guys we traded and the guys we picked up, so I'm very happy about it and excited for the season this year." That's for 2012. Then he'll see what 2013 and the end of his contract shall bring.
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