6/23/2013 9:00 P.M. ET
Votto battling unfamilar slump in '13
By Mark Sheldon / MLB.com
PHOENIX -- Originally considered average to below average at the position, Reds first baseman Joey Votto spent years working on his defense. Votto, who takes defense as seriously as hitting, improved to the point that he was a 2011 National League Gold Glove winner.
That is why Votto has been dismayed with his results on defense this season.
"It's definitely been frustrating for me, and unexpected," Votto said Sunday morning. "It's important for me not to be too concerned about it, because I am making plays on either side of me that I hadn't made in the past."
During Saturday's 4-3 Reds loss, the final two-run rally against Aroldis Chapman in the D-backs' ninth inning began when first batter Paul Goldschmidt hit a one-hopped ball off of Votto's glove that went into short right field.
The play was ruled a single, but it could have easily been an error. Votto could not say whether he should have been given an error there.
"It didn't make me happy that I didn't catch the ball," Votto said.
Votto already has eight errors this season, with his last one coming June 20. His career high is 11 errors, set in his rookie season of 2008.
"Similar to slumps, sometimes they happen in bunches," Votto said. "Probably about five of them -- I clanked a popup; a couple in Pittsburgh where there was a barehand play; a couple of bad hops to my side. All of them are errors and add up. I don't really know what ... is going on. It's not for a lack of work.
"You go through stretches in your career where you don't know why something happens. You try to control it as much as you can, but there is a luck or randomness component or a clumping of bad things all at the same time. There could be a couple of months in my career where I strike out a bunch of times. Those things happen. You have to work through it, find your game and figure out what you did wrong and ways to change that."
Reds manager Dusty Baker realizes there is not much he can do from the dugout as the mistakes happen.
"He practices every day. He practices a lot," Baker said. "Defense is more of a concentration thing than anything. The guy is working on it."
'Closer for life,' Aroldis remains confident
PHOENIX -- Reds closer Aroldis Chapman realizes he might not be very popular with some opposing hitters of late. In recent series, Chapman has buzzed hitters up and in with 100-mph pitches.
It happened against Pittsburgh's Neil Walker on June 17 and late last month against Cleveland's Nick Swisher. Both hitters, and their teams, took exception. Chapman denied there was bad intent behind his inside pitching.
"People will always talk about a high fastball inside," Chapman said Saturday before he blew his third save of the season vs. Arizona. "The only thing I can say is that I don't have any problem with any player or team in any way. I don't have any reason to hit anyone. I try to pitch inside, and, yes, sometimes the pitches stay high. For a fastball pitcher like me, it's good to throw high pitches, and then come back with a backdoor slider. It's part of the game. People misinterpret that, and a lot of players see it as bad, but it's not my intention to hit anyone."
Chapman feels he has tried to avoid controversy by not reacting to being stared down or barked at by the hitters.
"You try to control yourself and be a little bit more civilized than the person yelling things," Chapman said. "I have no reason to say anything, and if I do say something, it's only to say it was 'my bad' or something like that, but it's never to offend anyone. I don't need to get into that. That's just going to bring problems."
On Saturday afternoon, Chapman faced four batters and did not retire any in the ninth inning for a 4-3 Reds loss to the D-backs. The game ended on a bases-loaded, two-run single by Jason Kubel.
They were the first runs allowed and first blown save for Chapman since he gave up back-to-back homers to Erik Kratz and Freddy Galvis in a May 19 walk-off loss at Philadelphia. Chapman realizes his bad outings will be examined closer than some other closers'.
"People will always talk, and in the press, that's their job; I don't pay any attention to it, because I know I can do a good job," Chapman said, again before Saturday's game. "I definitely don't panic, whether it's three or four bad outings. God doesn't want you to be that way. But we are in the highest level of baseball, the Major Leagues, and anything can happen. I've had a few bad outings, but my confidence is not going anywhere."
Chapman had another bumpy ninth inning in Sunday's 4-2 win over Arizona. He retired his first two batters before giving up a run with two hits and a hit batsman. He hung on to notch his 19th save.
During Spring Training, the Reds originally had Chapman compete for the fifth starter's spot against Mike Leake. Ultimately, Chapman remained the closer, and it was something he fully supported then, and now.
"I want to be a closer for life," Chapman said. "I don't know what can happen in the future, but for now, my mentality is that of a closer."
• Outfielder Chris Heisey played all nine innings Saturday during the fifth game of his rehab assignment for Triple-A Louisville. Heisey played left field and went 0-for-4 vs. Rochester. He is expected to be activated Tuesday for the start of a two-game series at Oakland.
• The Reds on Sunday announced they signed right-handed pitcher Michael Lorenzen, their first-round competitve balance A pick (38th overall) in the 2013 First-Year Player Draft. Lorenzen, who had 19 saves while batting .335 this season, was an outfielder and pitcher for Cal-State Fullerton but will initially begin his pro career as a reliever. He will be given the opportunity to keep hitting in the Minors.
Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Mark My Word, and follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon. David Venn contributed to this report and is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.