Votto showing his power is back in a big way

Votto showing his power is back in a big way

CINCINNATI -- For those who complained that he should be less worried about on-base percentage and more concerned with RBIs, Joey Votto is providing the best of both worlds.

Votto hit a pair of two-run home runs in his first two at-bats on Friday vs. the Cardinals during Cincinnati's 5-4 victory.

Through four games, all Reds wins, the first baseman is batting .412/.444/.941 with three home runs and eight RBIs while batting in the No. 2 spot behind Billy Hamilton.

"He was terrific. He's doing a lot of things really well right now," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "What an influence to have in our lineup. He's healthy. He's running well and covering a lot of ground over at first base. It's just nice to have him back athletic again and doing the things we know he can do."

Votto's opposite-field shot

Major League pitchers who didn't hear much from Votto, or his bat last season. are certainly becoming reacquainted with them now. The Reds knew a healthy Votto would boost their offensive production. But his hitting performance out of the gate has been eye-opening.

Votto was limited to 62 games last season with a distal strain of his left quadriceps. He batted a career-low .255/.390/.409 with only six homers and 23 RBIs and did not play another game after July 5.

The Reds struggled to fill the void from his injury, and others missing from the lineup, during a disappointing year.

When Spring Training opened, Votto was full rehabilitated from the injury and it ceased to be a hot topic in camp.

"I didn't have a great spring, but I was very confident and felt good. I thought physically, I was in a good place, which is what I usually point to for long term success during the season," Votto said after Friday's game, which he also drew only his first walk, which was intentional.

Against John Lackey in the bottom of the first inning after Hamilton advanced to second base on a balk, Votto drove a 1-1 pitch into the left field seats that gave Cincinnati a 2-1 lead.

St. Louis got its one-run lead back in the second inning, but Votto returned in the third with one out against Lackey by driving a 2-0 pitch. Once again, it landed in the left field seats and gave the Reds a 4-3 lead.

Votto's second homer

"I'm just trying to go out there and compete. If that's what comes out, that's what comes out," Votto said of the homers. "It's early in the season and things will level off at some point."

It was the 10th multi-homer game of Votto's career, but his first since he hit three long balls against the Nationals on May 13, 2012.

Votto also has a four-game hitting streak to start the season, which included his driving in the winning run with an 11th inning walk-off single to defeat Pittsburgh on Wednesday. His two-run homer on Thursday vs. the Pirates was his first since May 10, 2014.

"I'm just trying to play every day, every pitch and compete and try to keep up with my teammates," Votto said.

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.