Joey Votto injury update suggests he's finally getting close to game action

Blue Jays say first baseman/DH is making good progress but wants to be 100 percent healthy before return
Joey Votto is pictured in the Blue Jays dugout during a Spring Training game against the Baltimore Orioles.
Joey Votto is pictured in the Blue Jays dugout during a Spring Training game against the Baltimore Orioles. / Julio Aguilar/GettyImages

In a season that so far has been short on good news stories, one such story may be nearing reality for Blue Jays fans.

The Blue Jays announced this week that Joey Votto is at the team's Dunedin complex, continuing to ramp up baseball activities. The first baseman/designated hitter is making good progress with hitting, fielding and throwing as he makes his way back from a right ankle injury, the team said.

If that progress continues, the next steps will see Votto taking live at-bats and then playing in minor league games. Blue Jays manager John Schneider said Votto made it clear he wants to be 100 percent healthy before he returns.

Votto started doing some defensive work last month and started hitting off of a tee shortly after that. No timeline has been given for Votto's return to the majors.

While seeing Votto in Blue Jay blue would be nice, there is no guarantee he'll crack the roster. But given Toronto's offensive struggles, one would think anything is possible.

The Toronto-born Votto granted thousands of "Bring Votto Home" wishes in March when he signed a minor league deal with a spring training invite with the Blue Jays. Votto posted a picture of himself on X as a baby wearing a Blue Jays bib, noting the deal was signed and that he was "a little Blue Jay now."

Votto only appeared in one game during spring training, facing only one pitch in his only plate appearance. But what a pitch it was. As the second batter of the March 17 game, Votto homered to left center off of Philadelphia Phillies starter Zach Wheeler. The Blue Jays ended up tying the Phillies 5-5 that day in Clearwater, Fla.

It was shortly after that home run trot that the trouble started. Votto was supposed to have play five innings and get three plate appearances that day, but he accidentally stepped on a bat in the dugout and rolled his ankle. He was removed from the game immediately.

Votto, 40, who grew up in the Toronto suburb of Etobicoke, Ont., spent 17 seasons with the Cincinnati Reds. A six-time All-Star, Votto is a Gold Glove Award and Hank Aaron Award winner, as well as the 2010 National League Most Valuable Player.

A .294 lifetime hitter with a .511 slugging percentage, Votto is known for getting on base, as his .409 career on-base percentage would attest to. He has 2,135 career hits, with 356 home runs, 1,144 RBIs and 459 doubles. Votto is also the active MLB career leader with 2,056 games played, 1,365 walks and 3,706 total bases.