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Prospect Hayes doesn’t mind tough spots

So much for easing into this spring training thing.

In his first full run through camp with the Reds, relief pitcher Drew Hayes hasn’t gotten any breaks from Dusty Baker. While the rain poured outside the team’s player development complex on Friday, the veteran manager joked about how he felt compelled to approach the former Dayton Dragon after sticking him into a number of bases-loaded jams.

“I apologized and said, ‘Hey man, sorry I can’t start you off in a clean inning.’ But he seemed unfazed by it,” Baker said of Hayes. “He said no problem. He throws strikes, and he’s got a good attitude.”

Hayes said he’s simply happy to be part of the club this spring, knowing full well he’s got no real chance to make the team. After a scintillating season in Dayton two summers ago, one in which he was named a Midwest League All-Star, he had a steady if unspectacular year at Double-A Pensacola in 2012.

In Dayton, Hayes had 22 saves and allowed just nine earned runs in 60 innings of work. He did, however, get touched up for a postseason home run against Lansing, one of just two blown saves he suffered the entire season.

But that hasn’t shaken the former Vanderbilt star, who is scheduled to make another appearance on Sunday when the Reds meet with the White Sox in Glendale. Baker made specific mention of Hayes when pointing out younger players who’ve impressed him this spring.

“I try to go out there with a lot of confidence. Coming into my first major-league camp, I want to feel like I belong. I want to feel comfortable,” Hayes said. “All of the non-roster invitees have earned the right to be here, so we should feel like we belong. I’m just enjoying this.”

Hayes said he wasn’t surprised Baker threw him in when he did. Being a young reliever, he relishes the chance to show he can help the team get out of trouble.

“I just try to be ready to pitch whenever I get the opportunity. Those are fun situations. It’s fun to go in there, try to get out of that spot and get some good work,” Hayes said. “As a relief pitcher, you’re gonna get into some of those situations during the season. The more you practice them, the better. I don’t try to do too much in those situations, but just do whatever I can to help out my team.”

Hayes said he’s paid extra attention to starter Mike Leake as well as relievers Jonathan Broxton and Sean Marshall.

“I try to see the way they go about things. The way they handle their craft. It’s really helped. The veteran guys have been really open and helped all the younger guys,” Hayes said. “It’s good to just be here and learn. It’s good to be around (pitching coach) Bryan Price and to listen to Dusty talk. Just listening to some of these guys talk, that might be the best experience I can take out of this.”

Rain, rain: The Reds were scheduled to play a pair of split-squad games Friday night after press time, but the inclement weather looked to put a damper on that. All the early games in the Cactus League were washed out.

Baker said he wasn’t concerned about the ramifications for positional players, but the potential schedule change can throw off the rotation, especially for some veteran hurlers. The weather forecast looks clear for the next week.

“It throws off the pitching. Especially in the case of Bronson (Arroyo),” Baker said. “Being a slow starter, hopefully he can throw in the cage. But it’s not the same as throwing against a batter.”

When asked who might start today when the Reds meet the Brewers at Goodyear Ballpark, Baker said he’d have to defer to Price.

“Whatever he thinks is best, he’s in charge of pitching,” Baker said. “I’m just in charge of answering questions.”

Mo’ Soto: One player sure to finish with plenty of at-bats this spring is Neftali Soto, who will likely gain a number of starts with Joey Votto off playing in the World Baseball Classic. Soto already had 18 at-bats prior to Friday, one less than he had all last spring.

Although he only has hits in two of the eight games in which he’s appeared, Soto’s four-hit outing against the Indians back on Feb. 23 showed what he’s capable of. Baker said he accidentally neglected to mention Soto when discussing players who have stood out this spring.

“With Joey being gone, he’s the only true first baseman I have,” Baker said.

Speaking of Votto, with the wet conditions outside, a number of the Reds sat around the clubhouse watching their teammate play with Team Canada in a contest against Italy, a game the Canadians lost 14-4.

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