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03/05/07 8:55 PM ET

Mailbag: Is three catchers a crowd?

Beat reporter Mark Sheldon answers Reds fans' questions

Why do the Reds feel the need to carry three catchers? It is a waste of a roster spot. If you think about it, there are four catchers considering Scott Hatteberg came up as a catcher.
-- Dean F, Loveland, Ohio

Certainly, Hatteberg could step up during an emergency. But he stopped catching long ago because he had a below-average throwing arm. Even he says his throws would get to second base...eventually.

If they carried a third catcher in Chad Moeller, which isn't a guarantee, the Reds would do it to get extra protection -- especially since No. 2 catcher Javier Valentin is their best pinch-hitter from the left side. Without a third catcher, the bench would be exposed if Valentin had to bat and then David Ross got hurt later in the game. If a second lefty pinch-hitter or switch hitter makes the club (ie: Hamilton or Mark Bellhorn), the three-catcher situation might not be happening.

It sounds to me that Josh Hamilton can be the real deal. Jerry Narron even said he has the best combination of power, speed and throwing ability at the camp, and he even spent time with him over the winter helping him work on his game. So why is he such a "long shot" to make the team? I know he's had a difficult past and hasn't played for a while, but if he's doing everything the Reds ask of him, why wouldn't he make the team?
-- George S., Wilder, Ky.

Hamilton is doing everything the Reds have asked of him and he is being given every possible chance, and then some, to make the team. But it still comes down to whether he can help the team out of camp, or at least that he's showing signs to being on the path towards being a contributor. Otherwise, they'd be tying up a 25-man roster spot and playing shorthanded if he can't.

Teams have carried Rule 5 guys that clearly aren't ready, but usually they aren't expecting to be competitive in the season and are rebuilding for the future. I don't get that vibe from the Reds management.

Even with great ability and talent, baseball is one of the toughest sports around, and expecting someone to pick up right where he left off after four years off is asking a lot of anyone. That's why he's been viewed, in my opinion and some others, as a long shot. However, Hamilton's odds have certainly improved through the first week of games. He's looked good at the plate, is hitting to all fields with power and he hasn't been overmatched just yet. Defensively, he's looked solid and he can still run and throw well. It is still early, though, and a lot of games remain. This isn't the most intriguing story of camp for nothing.

Have you had a chance to see Brad Salmon pitch? If so, what do you think of his chances of making the team. His Minor League numbers last year were outstanding.
-- Karhlton M., Columbus, Ohio

I've seen Salmon's first two outings and he's looked pretty good. He worked out of a tight, ninth-inning jam in his first appearance against Pittsburgh. The Reds like that he is a right-handed power pitcher from the bullpen, which would offer them something they don't have much of right now. Todd Coffey is the only other reliever currently on the staff able to consistently throw in the low-to-mid 90s. Especially with Gary Majewski's shoulder issues making him questionable to open the season healthy, I'd believe that Salmon has a good shot of making the club.

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With Ryan Freel and Juan Castro (in my opinion, two of the best utility guys in the game right now), should the Reds really be starting Edwin Encarnacion at third base?
-- Michael B, Sharonville, Ohio

Without a doubt, yes. Encarnacion can be a good middle of the order hitter and key run producer. He frequently works counts and can get on base. That's pretty good for someone who is all of 24 and still developing at the big league level.

Obviously, Encarnacion's defense hadn't caught up yet. His throws were all over the place last year, and the 25 errors didn't help. But he worked hard and seemed to be getting better by the late season. He is expected to improve some more by playing with guys like Castro, Alex Gonzalez and Brandon Phillips.

Could we see Joey Votto in Cincy this summer?
--Mark M., Memphis, Tenn.

Sure, it's possible. Votto has been impressive to this point. For more insight on the first baseman, check out this story that ran over the weekend.

At the rate Adam Dunn is going, could he become the Reds' all-time leader in home runs. Who has the team record?
-- Kevin D. Fort Wayne, Ind.

That would be Hall of Famer Johnny Bench, with 389 home runs from 1967-83. Bench is followed by Frank Robinson (324) and Tony Perez (287). Dunn is seventh with 198 career homers.

Will any of the Spring Training games be televised? I have been looking and haven't found anything, but maybe I am looking in the wrong spot. Thanks.
-- Rob B. Indianapolis

Three games are on the FSN Ohio schedule this spring. They are March 22 against the Yankees, March 24 vs. the Phillies and March 26 against the Red Sox (also on ESPN). All three games are scheduled to begin at 1:05 p.m. ET.

Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.