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02/17/2013 5:03 PM ET

Live batting begins with games quickly approaching

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Reds batters faced Reds pitchers Sunday in camp's first round of live batting practice. Both groups are trying to sharpen up ahead of the first Cactus League games, which begin earlier than usual, on Feb. 22.

"I just hope nobody gets hurt -- with hamstrings," manager Dusty Baker said. "I imagine the kids will play a lot. This is where the balance comes in -- how much to play your regulars or when are they going to get stale or stagnant? You have to play them enough to get in shape but they can't peak too early in Spring Training. But I have to play them enough to get them ready or else you're inviting injury to the older players."

It hasn't been determined if the Reds will hold an intrasquad game before starting exhibition games.

"We're not sure yet. We'll talk about it soon," Baker said.

Simon excited to join Dominican team for Classic

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Reds reliever Alfredo Simon will be the second player in big league camp to depart for the World Baseball Classic in March. Simon was picked to participate with the Dominican Republic.

"They called and asked me if I wanted to go there. I want to represent my country," Simon said on Sunday." The last time, I was supposed to go but I couldn't because the team said I couldn't go there. This year, the [Reds] said I could go. I'm happy.

"I'm ready to go. I'm going to throw a couple of outings here before I go there. It will be a new experience for me."

Second baseman Brandon Phillips will represent Team USA at the Classic. Two other main players, Canadian first baseman Joey Votto and Dominican pitcher Johnny Cueto, are coming off of injuries and haven't learned yet if they will be allowed to play for their countries.

Simon, 31, was a long reliever for Cincinnati last season after being claimed off of waivers from the Orioles two days before Opening Day. In 36 appearances, he was 3-2 with a 2.66 ERA and worked 61 innings with 22 walks, 52 strikeouts and only two home runs allowed.

On four occasions, Simon saved the bullpen with three-inning appearances. As a first-time long reliever in the big leagues, he stranded 12 of his 16 inherited baserunners and retired his first batter 22 times.

"I talked to a lot of guys that said every time I go out to do the best I can to keep everything down," Simon said. "I want to have another good year, and do better than last year."

Worth noting

• Left-handed reliever Manny Parra has been held back from pitching because of a sore neck. Starter Bronson Arroyo remains under the weather with flu-like symptoms.

• Three Venezuelan players who have been absent because of visa issues -- infielder Henry Rodriguez, outfielder Yorman Rodriguez, and lefty pitcher Ismael Guillon -- were expected to arrive in Arizona on Sunday.

• Among the pitchers who threw live batting practice on Sunday were J.J. Hoover, Tony Cingrani, Daniel Corcino, Clay Hensley, Pedro Villarreal and Armando Galarraga.

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.