Votto defends Reds' clubhouse leadership

Votto defends Reds' clubhouse leadership

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- There had been speculation and criticism about the Reds lacking clubhouse leadership last season before former pitcher Mat Latos fired shots at his old team in a published Q&A on Sunday, bringing the issue to the forefront again during Spring Training.

Reds first baseman Joey Votto already pushed back last week against personal criticism about his hitting approach. On Tuesday, Votto took to task those who say that his team has no leaders, especially since the departure of veteran Scott Rolen, who retired after the 2012 season.

"We're a group of guys that have come up through the organization together, different times," Votto said. "As we grow, we're doing it collectively. There's not going to be one focal point. We're doing it as a unit. I know that when we traded for Marlon [Byrd], the conversation was about his leadership qualities. Marlon is going to come here and be himself and bring what he brings, but he's also going to fit in. He's going to be part of the team.

"We're doing all right, we just lost last year. We've won three of the last five years. We've had a couple of not-so-good runs in the playoffs, but there were some variables involved -- no excuses. … Last year, I would like to think, was a bit of an aberration."

The Reds finished 76-86 in 2014, with a fourth-place finish in the National League Central. Votto was limited to 62 games because of a distal strain of his left quadriceps.

"The thing that upsets me the most is the people that are talking about leadership and talking about our clubhouse are not in our clubhouse," Votto said. "They're not consistently here to make any sort of comment on the clubhouse. These are guys that very rarely show their face in the clubhouse, are never on the bus, not in the hotel, certainly not on the field, and these guys are constantly commenting on the importance of leadership with no sort of experience to be able to have that conversation. They don't see the interactions. They don't see the bench. They're going to write and talk endlessly on something they have no information on.

"To me, I think that's doing a disservice to this team. It's doing a disservice to the front office, to the coaching staff, and I think it's highly, highly convenient because we lost last year to highlight something like that."

Rolen and Bronson Arroyo both were considered to provide quality veteran presence in the clubhouse, but Votto asserted that the current team didn't need "one focal point" to work well.

"We don't need rah-rah, we don't need everyone to be slapped on the [behind] and patted on the back, because we're not that group of guys," Votto said. "None of these guys need to be motivated to be at their very best. I'd like to think that this year we're going to play and play well and win, and win the division again, and all that chatter will just be chatter -- chatter in the rearview mirror."

Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Mark My Word, and follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.