Reds catcher Jason LaRue participated in a live webchat with fans Monday from Spring Training camp in Sarasota, Fla. The Reds' longest-tenured current player, LaRue answered questions about team chemistry, the ownership and front office changes and his leadership role on the team.

LaRue: Howdy ya'll.

Gloria_Astorga: What are your hobbies?

LaRue: Hunting and spending time with my family.

devinrave7_yahoo_com: With all the major changes that have happened this year, in your mind, has this made the Reds a contender?

LaRue: Absolutely. It seems like with the decisions that have been made and people we've gotten rid of, front office and ownership, no doubt we're going in the right direction and making wise decisions.

redschick0509: What has the atmosphere been like so far during Spring Training, especially with all the changes that have occurred? Also, good luck to you and the rest of the guys this season!

LaRue: The atmosphere has been upbeat and basically everyone in the club house is very happy with the decisions and changes that have been made.

ballparkbasher: How did Sean Casey's departure to the Pirates affect you? You seem to be an obvious replacement for the clubhouse leader since you are the longest tenured Red with a lot of big league experience. How do feel about a leadership role?

LaRue: It was obviously a hard departure, he was one of my best friends on the team. But it's something I have to deal with and move on. I feel like I've always been in a leadership role because of the position that I play. In my position, you always have to be a leader. So therefore, I don't think it's going to be much of a change for me.

Tatem_Miller: Where's your favorite place to eat in Cincinnati?

LaRue: The Precinct or Carlo & Johnny's.

cinciredsgirl: During your time with the Reds, have you had a specific pitcher that you like to catch for?

LaRue: I would say no, because my duties are to catch all of the pitchers and have a great relationship with all of them. That goes with being a great catcher; you have to have a great relationship with every pitcher you catch. That is part of your duty.

ballparkbasher: What have you been up to in the offseason?

LaRue: Hunting and spending time on my ranch with my family.

ballparkbasher: Who are some of your best friends on the team?

LaRue: Matt Belisle, Brian Shackelford, Austin Kearns, Adam Dunn, Eric Milton and Paul Wilson.

Base_Ball_3: Coming into Spring Training, what part of your game are you looking to improve the most?

LaRue: None in particular, just focusing on doing everything -- all-around catching games and also improve my hitting.

redleg2006: What is your honest opinion of the World Baseball Classic?

LaRue: For some players it's great that they can play and serve their countries. With other players, it might hurt them. It might take time away from Spring Training when they are all playing for their countries.

ballparkbasher: You seem to get hit by a lot of pitches. Why do some guys get hit more than others?

LaRue: I crowd the plate a little bit. Pitchers are less likely to make a mistake when you're hitting in the eighth hole because you have the pitcher hitting behind you. So their mistakes will be pretty far off the plate, so that's why I get hit.

Rodney_Jayne: Do you have a favorite song or singer?

LaRue: Favorite singer is George Strait. Favorite song is ... too many to list, all by George.

Base_Ball_2: Where do you go to vacation?

LaRue: This year we went to Turks & Caicos islands.

moosegirl1: What is your offseason workout? Has the routine changed over the years?

LaRue: I start working out around the first of November with weights. I do that until the first of the year, then I start doing baseball related activities like hitting and throwing. My routine has changed only slightly. Now that I've gotten older I've got to stretch more.

Dylan_Carter: How is the team's chemistry?

LaRue: The team chemistry is great. Pretty much every year we've had a great team chemistry.

Shawn_Mullen: What team are you looking forward to playing the most in the upcoming season?

LaRue: I would say Houston, because that's when I get to see my family -- my mom and dad, my wife's family, and brothers and sisters.

redsfan54_msn_com: If you were offered, would you have played in the World Baseball Classic?

LaRue: No, because I think that Spring Training is a time to get ready for the regular season and for our team to get better. If I had left, being the starting catcher, it would not have been good for my team or my teammates.

Shawn_Mullen: What made you decide to sign another contract with the Reds during the offseason?

LaRue: Because of the changes that have been made. It seems like now the Reds are going in the right direction. In past years, changes were always talked about, but were not made. But now, with all of the front office changes that have been made, I feel like now were are going in the right direction.

ballparkbasher: What is life like as a big league ballplayer? Do you have to pinch yourself when you see thousands of people cheering for you?

LaRue: For me, it's a great life. I been fortunate to be able to do what I want to in life. Not too many people as a kids get the chance to what they dreamed about. And no, I don't have to pinch myself when I get out in front of the fans, but it is one of the greatest feelings in the world.

ballparkbasher: What is your favorite ballpark to play in?

LaRue: Other than Great American Ball Park, I would have to say Busch Stadium in St. Louis.

caredsfan: I'm the No. 1 Reds fan in California. The catcher is seen as the leader out on the field. You seem to enjoy this role. What makes you so darn tough? Between catching and getting plunked, you are tough as nails. Have a great 2006!

LaRue: The reason I enjoy the catching position and the role that it plays is because I am involved in some way in every single play of the game. What makes me so tough is probably the way my mom and dad raised me up. It was instilled in me to go out on the field and help my team win.

LaRue: Thanks everyone for chatting today. Hope to see you at the ballpark in 2006.