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Votto homers in Blue Jays' tie against Phillies

Toronto Blue Jays Joey Votto - The Canadian Press

CLEARWATER, Fla. — Joey Votto homered in his first at-bat in the opening inning and the Toronto Blue Jays played to a 5-5 draw against the Philadelphia Phillies on Sunday in pre-season action.

It was one of two split-squad games on the day for the Blue Jays, who defeated the Minnesota Twins 9-4 in Dunedin, Fla.

Votto, from Toronto, made his first appearance in a Jays uniform after signing a minor league deal with a spring training invite on March 9. The 40-year-old joined Toronto after 17 years with Cincinnati, where he was a six-time all-star and earned National League MVP honours in 2010.

“I felt like this was the swing I was chasing,” Votto said according to “The pull homers are a bit fake. They’re a bit of an illusion.

"If you ask any really, really good hitter, keeping the ball in the centre of the field or the opposite-field side with some power, with some line, it’s hard to fail with that. It’s hard to feel dissatisfied. I’m ecstatic about that swing.”

Votto only played the first inning, however.

“I accidentally stepped on a bat in the dugout, rolled my ankle and it hurt like the dickens,” said Votto, who added that the Jays' day off on Monday is all he needs for recovery. “So I came out of the game, but not intentionally. I was scheduled to play five innings and get three at-bats.”

Ernie Clement's eighth-inning homer, followed by Garrett Spain's RBI single in the ninth pulled Toronto (11-11) even against Philadelphia.

Starter Jose Berrios had two strikeouts and surrendered six hits and four runs in 4 2/3 innings.

Rodolfo Castro had two runs batted in for Philadelphia (8-9). Zack Wheeler struck out two batters, walked one and gave up three hits and one run in four innings as the starter.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 17, 2024.