When he was managing the Giants, Baker also saw Hatteberg play often for the A's during Interleague play.
"I'm sure that helps some," Hatteberg said. "It's going to come down to an organizational decision. We're both left-handers, so it's not like splitting time will be an option."
"What's Hatteberg, 38? Votto is 24," Baker said. "Votto is the future here. I've talked to Hatteberg about Votto. He thinks he's going to be heck of a player. He wasn't conceding his job, but he understands that to be part of the club, that it might be Votto's time."
Last season, Hatteberg batted a career-best .310 with 10 home runs and 47 RBIs in 116 games. On a team that lacks disciplined hitters who work counts and draw walks, Hatteberg is one of the more patient people around at the plate.
"I don't feel like I'm on the decline of my career," Hatteberg said. "I feel like I'm still doing pretty well. I feel good about my game. Having said that, it's out of my hands about which direction they want to go. It's a bright future for Joey. When they want to start that future, who knows?"
Votto, one of the top Reds prospects, hit .294 with 22 homers and 92 RBIs at Triple-A Louisville last season. As a September callup, he had an impressive big league debut, batting .321 with four homers and 17 RBIs in 24 games while Hatteberg was out with a strained oblique muscle.
It was clear Votto will have to prove himself before being handed the starting spot.
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"You don't take anything away from that, but September is a little different than April," Baker said. "I've seen guys come up in September and tear it up and then you can't find them in April, and vice versa. But it's better than nothing."
The Reds picked up Hatteberg's $1.85 million option in October. A good clubhouse guy, he'd be a positive influence for teammates whether he starts or not. But if Votto ends up starting, would he rather go elsewhere if it meant regular playing time?
"It's something we'll come to when it happens," Hatteberg said. "I'd love to be here, see this team do well and be a part of it. That's my No. 1 goal. Until that doesn't happen, we'll see."
To make room for the free agent signing of pitcher Josh Fogg on the 40-man roster, lefty Bobby Livingston was placed on the 60-day disabled list.
Livingston has been rehabilitating from a September surgery on his left shoulder and wasn't expected to be ready for the start of the season.
No word given:
First baseman/outfielder Craig Wilson has not been in camp the past two days. The Reds have made no announcement about Wilson, but he was believed to be in the area and his locker still contained his belongings. The 31-year-old was signed to a Minor League contract with a camp invite on Feb. 9.
Reds hitters stepped into the cage for their first live batting practice session against the pitchers on Thursday. It's usually an advantage for the pitchers since they've been throwing longer and position players only started formally working out on Wednesday.
"The first time facing pitchers is always tough," Hatteberg said. "It went good. I only lost one bat."
Prospects Jay Bruce and Votto also cracked their bats while facing pitcher Gary Majewski. On another field, Adam Dunn cleared the trees with a long ball beyond the outfield fence.
Pitching coach Dick Pole disagreed that live BP was tougher on hitters.
"We tell them what's coming," Pole said. "We won't tell them the next time."
Rookies or veterans?:
Baker has been asked often this spring if he could envision starting young prospects like Votto or Bruce. Although known historically to have a preference of favoring veterans, Baker disputes the notion he doesn't want rookies.
"I think the only thing I haven't had as a manager, so far as players are concerned, is a Rookie of the Year, because I haven't had any," Baker said. "They got traded and I got the credit for not playing them, which was bull. There were a lot of rookies we traded because of the need to win now. It seemed like the philosophy."