Cincinnati Reds star Joey Votto declined to talk about baseball immediately after an action-packed game for the Canadian on Wednesday. Instead, he wanted to focus on the communities of Uvalde, Texas and Buffalo, N.Y. in the aftermath of mass shootings.
“I haven’t felt in the mood to talk ball today. I just want to say to Buffalo, to Uvalde, to communities affected by the recent shootings, we mourn with you,” an emotional Votto said in an on-field television interview after he homered, tripled and got into a heated argument with Chicago Cubs pitcher and fellow Canadian Rowan Wick following a walk in a 4-3 Reds win.
“It’s unfathomable. You have our love, you have our support. We just got done enjoying a ballgame, but you’re not alone. We think about you. You have our love and support, that’s all I really want to say tonight. It’s been a wild stretch over the last little bit. We’re so sorry. Our condolences, my condolences. Again, you have our love.”
Nineteen students and two adults were killed in a school shooting on Tuesday in Uvalde. It came 10 days after 10 people were killed in a shooting in a Buffalo supermarket targeting the Black community.
Votto’s interview came less than an hour after things got testy on the field in Cincinnati.
Wick, a native of North Vancouver, B.C., threw high and inside on the first pitch of an at-bat to Votto in the eighth inning and then proceeded to walk him.
As the Toronto-born Votto headed to first, Wick said something to the former National League MVP. When Votto got to first, he barked back and that led to Cubs players in the dugout joining the argument. Earlier in the game, Votto had a home run and a triple.
“He had something to say and I answered. That’s how ball is sometimes,” Votto told reporters in the locker room.
“You’re competitive and he clearly he was competing and locked in on performing well. I’m pulling on the opposite end of the same rope. If someone says something to me, sometimes I don’t answer but I wasn’t in the mood to keep my mouth shut. It’s part of the game and it can be one of the more enjoyable parts of the game … Generally speaking I enjoy that part as long as the other party is fine with taking it. You give it to me, no problem, I’ll give it back.”
In the ninth, Reds reliever Hunter Strickland hit Chicago’s Patrick Wisdom with a pitch. Wisdom wasn’t happy and Cubs manager David Ross came out to argue and was thrown out.
Wick said he didn’t appreciate the way Votto flipped his bat following the walk.
“I’ll be honest, it was a nice bat flip,” Wick said. “I understand he’s been in the league a long time and he can do whatever he wants when he walks. I wasn’t happy with the pitches that I threw. I got a little frustrated. Feel like he kind of blew it out of the water more than it needed to be.”
Wick said he has no history with his countrymate.
“I don’t even know if he knows we’re both Canadian,” Wick said.
Votto said Strickland didn’t intentionally hit Wisdom.
“We don’t get paid for retribution,” Votto said. “We get paid to complete games, to perform well … It couldn’t have been less intentional.”
Votto, who got off to a very slow start this season, returned from the COVID-19 list last Friday for a series at home against the Toronto Blue Jays. He had the game-winning homer in the series finale.
— With files from The Associated Press