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02/18/2013 3:27 PM ET

Crowded Reds bullpen promises heated competition

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- The battles in Reds camp are few as open spots are far between. No area will likely be more competitive than the bullpen -- assuming the club carries 12 pitchers, that leaves seven spots for relievers.

"That's the toughest thing of every camp. It's the toughest job I have," Reds manager Dusty Baker said on Monday. "They know there's only a few jobs here. Bench players, that's another tough area. Catching? Another tough area. Most good teams have tough areas. Bad teams are searching for quality. Something always works out and takes care of itself."

The list of pitchers on Baker's dry-erase board is lengthy. Jonathan Broxton and Sean Marshall have big contracts and are locks, while Nick Masset, Jose Arredondo and Alfredo Simon are out of options. Sam LeCure has established himself the past couple of seasons. Manny Parra was signed as a free agent to a one-year, $1 million contract to be a second left-hander. Logan Ondrusek, recently signed to a two-year deal that avoided arbitration, is highly regarded. The issue could really compound if Aroldis Chapman doesn't wind up starting and returns to the bullpen.

Also look for a big push from power right-hander J.J. Hoover, who had a strong rookie debut in the middle of 2012. Hoover was 1-0 with a 2.05 ERA in 28 games, including 13 walks and 31 strikeouts in 30 2/3 innings.

"He was very impressive," Baker said of Hoover. "You can pitch your way on to the [bullpen]. That's what he did last year. That's what it's all about anyway. All I can do is give you the opportunity to pitch or play. This is a performance-based job. Sometimes, you're a little more patient because of the potential and ceiling you see in a player."

Uncertain role not affecting Broxton's preparation

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- As the execution behind Aroldis Chapman's move from closer to Reds starting pitcher remains shrouded in secrecy, so too is the exact role of reliever Jonathan Broxton.

A free agent this winter, Broxton was re-signed to a three-year, $21 million contract with the notion he would replace Chapman. His compensation is certainly closer's money, but it doesn't guarantee he will be the new closer in 2013 if the Reds ultimately decide to keep Chapman in the bullpen.

"I don't know where I'm at yet. Dusty [Baker] hasn't really said," Broxton said. "They don't really know yet what's going on. They're going to try and start Chappy, but you never know."

Broxton, 28, had a 2.48 ERA and 27 saves in 60 appearances for the Reds and Royals last season. He has 111 saves over his eight-year career. Currently having his role written in pencil, rather than pen, during camp will not affect how the big right-hander prepares for the season.

"You just have to get your work in and have a feel for all of your pitches," Broxton said. "I've never seen anybody get paid for spring or the ERA on the back of a baseball card for spring."

Broxton has been looking forward to attending his first Spring Training with the Reds. He was a Trade Deadline acquisition from the Royals on July 31.

"I had a lot of fun last year when I got traded over here," Broxton said. "We had 2 1/2 months together. Now I will hopefully get the whole year. I think a lot of guys are ready to go. They're ready to work hard. We didn't like what happened at the end last year. Everybody has that little edge to them. We're getting after it this spring."

Votto's health ringing no alarm bells in Reds camp

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Since the full squad reported and began working out on Friday, it's seemingly been business as usual for Joey Votto. The Reds first baseman has shown no signs of being bothered by his surgically repaired left knee.

Reds manager Dusty Baker was asked Monday if he had seen anything not right about Votto.

"He looks like Joey to me," Baker said. "I'm not really worried about Joey. Joey works. A guy that works is a guy that heals. Unless I see something contrary to what I think, no sense worrying about something that isn't there or causing him to worry. They didn't sign Joey to a 10-year contract because he'll hit only one year. Joey is going to hit. He's one of the best around. Once you've won the MVP and once you're an All-Star, you expect that."

Latos rests injured ankle; Arroyo, Parra back in action

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Starting pitcher Mat Latos hurt his right ankle while running on Saturday. Although Latos took part in Sunday's workout with the club, he did not participate in drills with the other pitchers on Monday.

"It's better to get hurt early than in the last week of spring," Reds manager Dusty Baker said.

Another starting pitcher, Bronson Arroyo, returned to participating in drills on Monday after missing several days with flu-like symptoms.

Reliever Manny Parra also returned to pitching after being bothered by a sore neck.

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.