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Joey Votto Returns


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Being here in Cincy, I've obviously been more of a witness to the things that Joey has gone through and watching him come out of those games earlier this season was really hard to see as a fan. You could tell something was really wrong but we had no clue what was going on with him. It was sad to see a young player having such a hard time but in the back of my mind, even though I knew he'd had the flu and an ear infection, I wondered if this had something to do with his father passing away last year. I have two friends who have each lost one of their parents when they were young and I see them struggle with it from time to time so I can't imagine what that must be like for a baseball player who's always in the public eye. I have SO much respect for him talking so openly and honestly about his struggles and I plan to be at his first home game back one week from today screaming my head off for him. He's a tremendous human being and I'm so happy he seems to be coming to terms with everything. He's currently 1-2 tonight for the Reds and will be batting again soon in the 6th inning. It's SO great having him back with the team. :)

BTW-Here's a little more of what Joey had to say before the game tonight from our Reds beat writer in Cincy and this is all in his own words (link: http://news.cincinnati.com/apps/pbcs.dll/section?category=blog07&plckController=Blog&plckScript=blogScript&plckElementId=blogDest&plckBlogPage=BlogViewPost&plckPostId=Blog%3ae57bcc87-152a-4f72-96fb-cc08b1f396efPost%3a58c8eee8-d07c-4385-a763-79c01775b56c&sid=sitelife.cincinnati.com)

“As some of you know, my father passed away last August. The first day back I kind of put that all on the back burner and just played baseball all the way to the end of September. I don’t want to use the word suppress because he was in my thoughts and I was dealing with it on a daily basis. But, as powerful a moment that is to lose your father so young, in a way I did suppress it. From August to the beginning of spring training, I was pretty severely depressed. I was dealing with the anxiety of grief and sadness and fear. Every emotion you can imagine that everyone goes through.

“I had a really difficult time with it. I was by myself down in Florida. I just was really looking forward to baseball. When baseball started up in February, I kind of did the same thing I did last August and threw it all on the side, threw all my emotions on the back burner and played baseball.

“I got sick in May. I had the upper respiratory thing and the ear infection. It was taking the time away from baseball and recovering from being sick when for the first time all emotions that had been pushing to the side that I had been dealing with and struggling with in the winter hit me. They hit me a hundred times more than I had been dealing with.

“I was taken out of three separate games. The first game it was a combination of me being ill. But I could tell there was something going on. I couldn’t recover. I had this feeling of anxiety. I had this feeling in my chest. The second time I came out in San Diego, it was similar. But I was healthy and I felt like I could’ve played.

“The third time was in Milwaukee, and I was totally overwhelmed.

“I spoke to some doctors. They came to the conclusion I was dealing with obviously being depressed and anxiety and panic attacks. They were overwhelming to the point where I had to go to the hospital on two separate occasions. Once in San Diego and once – nobody had been told about – but I went to the hospital once in Cincinnati when the team was on the road.

“It was a very, very scary and crazy night. I had to call 911 at 3 or 4 in the morning. It was probably the scariest moment I ever dealt with in my life. I went to the hospital that night.

“The days I was taken off the field were little, miniature versions of what I was dealing with by myself. Ever since I’ve been on the DL and even the little bit before the DL, I’ve been really struggling with this in my private life. I’d go on the field and try to do my best and play well. I had my spurts when I’d play well. But going out on the field . . . I couldn’t do it anymore because I was so overwhelmed physically by the stuff I was dealing with off the field.

“It finally seeped its way into the game. I just had to put an end to it. I really couldn’t be out there. It’s difficult to explain what I was going through. I couldn’t do it. I physically couldn’t do my job. That’s what I’ve gone through.

“I’ve been talking and seeing some doctors. They’ve been a great help. And speaking to people in general – I spoke to my team last week – and letting people know what I’ve been dealing with and how difficult this grieving process has been. My father was young, and I’m a young man. I really wish I hadn’t lost my father so young. I’m the oldest brother. I feel like I’m responsible for my family. Maybe I have a proclivity for depression or whatever it is.

“But I was dealing with some pretty abnormal circumstances – the combination of being a major league ballplayer, a young ballplayer and also dealing with my father and my family.”

More from another blog post...

On the irony of it: “I’m so lucky to be able to do what I do for a living. That was probably the thing that drove me crazy. Like I said (baseball) was my refuge. (For the illness) to take being able to do that away from me was the thing I had the most difficult time with. I can’t explain how hard it was to watch the games, feeling I should be on the field with my guys, doing my job, instead of laying on the couch, or whatever I was doing.”

Does he think he'll be OK? “Today is going to be a test. I’m not going to get ahead of myself and say everything will be perfect, but I think I’ll be fine.”

On his success through the hard times: “I think I’m pretty good player first of all,” he said. “Baseball was my refuge. I came on the field, did my job and focused on that. Then I went home and was miserable. That was pretty much my routine everyday.”

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