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Reds Inbox: Letter late than never?

Beat writer Mark Sheldon answers questions on Latos, Broxton, Arroyo, Hamilton, more

How long has it been since I've answered questions for a Reds Inbox? Honestly, I'm not sure and haven't checked the archives.

I'm guessing that the last time I did one, you were wondering why Chris Dickerson wasn't playing more, or whether Edwin Encarnacion could improve his defense or maybe when this kid named Jay Bruce might debut in the Majors?

Therefore, I'm sorry for the Inbox rust that's collected. Each week until Spring Training starts, I'll do my best to answer your Reds questions. If you have a Reds-related question, please send it along to and be sure to include your first name, last initial and town.

As David Letterman used to say, these are real questions from real people.

What is the health status on Mat Latos and Jonathan Broxton? When will they begin camp on normal throwing program?
-- Raul A., Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico

Latos had arthroscopic surgery on Oct. 11 to remove bone chips from his right elbow. He has already started his throwing program and is long tossing at distances from 90-105 feet. I'd expect him to be on schedule with the rest of the starting pitchers. Broxton had a much more serious operation in August to repair a torn flexor mass in his right forearm. According to the Reds, he has begun a throwing program "without discomfort or hesitations."

Are the Reds going to sign Bronson Arroyo? He has done so much for the team since he was traded to them.
-- Nathan S., Cincinnati

You're correct about Arroyo doing a lot for the Reds since his acquisition in 2006. But, I'd say the chances are quite slim he would be re-signed at this point. Arroyo, who turns 37 next month, is still reportedly seeking a two- or three-year contract. Especially with the likes of Tony Cingrani and Robert Stephenson and other young arms in the organization, and payroll limitations, the Reds aren't interested in giving Arroyo that many years.

Can the Reds defer some of Arroyo's contract to fit it into this year's budget (I don't know what if any rules there are on that)?
-- Andrew S., Columbus, Ga.

When Arroyo signed a three-year extension for $35 million to keep him in Cincinnati through 2013, he deferred $15 million of that money until 2021, without interest. I think the deferring is over with.

Will Billy Hamilton's speed offset his shortcomings in batting average to make him anywhere near the constant threat the Reds had with Shin-Soo Choo in the lineup?
-- Mike W., Shepherdsville, Ky.

Hamilton's batting average is only part of the equation in replacing Choo as the Reds' leadoff hitter. His on-base percentage will be even more important. If Hamilton gets on first base -- by any means necessary -- his speed gives him an excellent chance of being in scoring position for the No. 2 hitter. Hamilton doesn't have to achieve the stratospheric .423 OBP Choo had last season, but he needs to get on base enough to make his speed a true weapon.

Since the Yankees designated Vernon Wells for assignment on Friday, any chance the Reds take a flyer on him as a fallback option for Hamilton in center field and/or Ryan Ludwick in left field? Looking at his contract, it looks like the Angels are still obligated to pick up all but about $2.5 million, which I would think even the Reds could fit into their budget. He had three great months in 2013, but also had three horrible months. I would think he could provide some veteran leadership, would be a defensive upgrade over Ludwick and some occasional power off the bench.
-- Joel H., Indianapolis

Wells has hit .227 over his last three seasons combined with the Yankees and Angels and is 35 years old. While he'd probably be a cheap addition, the Reds already have a corner outfielder and center fielder who's younger and with more upside in Chris Heisey. Utility player and offseason signee Skip Schumaker can also play all three outfield positions. I've heard great things about Wells' personality, but if the Reds were to add a bargain outfielder, I'd expect it to be someone else.

Thanks for all the work you do for us Reds fans. My question is regarding the time that you spend in the radio booth. I have read that the booth is a very entertaining place to be, particularly when off air. Can you share a story about an interesting thing or conversation that you have experienced while in the booth? And just reflect on what Marty & the Cowboy are like off air? Thanks.
-- Jeff P. Williamstown, Ky.

Have you ever seen one of those informercials for the Dean Martin roasts? That's what it's like sometimes to be on the air with Marty Brennaman, except he is the one roasting you. Off the air, it's similar, but a little more like an off-color Friar's Club roast. Seriously, I very much enjoy doing half of the second innings with Marty, Jeff Brantley and Jim Kelch, and it's been a privilege to get to visit in the booth. There really isn't a ton of time between innings by the time I get over to the radio booth from the press box. I go in there and Marty zings me with something that cracks me up. Then he asks what I have to talk about and notes that it better not be weak. After that, we're live and the exchanges are all improvisation. I'm always amazed how well Marty can seamlessly weave a conversation around play-by-play. That's why he's one of the best. Marty and Jeff are basically the same off the air as they are on. There is no act going on in there. They're good people to both know and work around.

Mark Sheldon is a reporter for

Cincinnati Reds, Jonathan Broxton, Billy Hamilton, Mat Latos