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2/23/2013 6:26 P.M. ET

Outfield prospect LaMarre sharpens defense during BP

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Considering that the Reds have stressed defense as a top priority in recent seasons, outfield prospect Ryan LaMarre should fit in whenever he reaches the Majors.

LaMarre, a center fielder who is in his first big league camp as a non-roster player, has been rated the organization's best defensive outfielder by Baseball America each of the past three years.

"Defense is something I take pride in and work on," LaMarre said on Saturday. "It's something you can bring every day. You might go through slumps offensively or some rough patches. But defense should be there every day. You try to do little things that help the team -- save a run, throwing a guy out. At the end of the season, it adds up to some wins."

LaMarre, 24, tries to spend one or two batting practice groups each day testing his limits in the outfield.

"I'll try to come in as far as I can to see what balls I can chase down over my head or some techniques on throwing the ball or working on cutoffs," LaMarre said. "I try to eliminate the tail on the ball. It only takes 5-10 minutes every day, but it's one of those things I feel like there is no excuse for [defense] not to be there. I like to make it my strong suit."

A second-round Draft pick in 2010 out of the University of Michigan, LaMarre batted .263 with five home runs, 32 RBIs and 30 steals at Double-A Pensacola in 2012. He has looked to veteran outfielders like Jay Bruce and Chris Heisey for advice the last couple of years and spent time with Bruce on the club's winter caravan last month.

"Jay has been pretty open the last couple of years that anytime I needed something, don't be afraid to ask him," LaMarre said.

LaMarre started in right field in Bruce's place against the Indians on Saturday and was 0-for-2.

To help bring his offense to the level of his defense, LaMarre spent time during the offseason in Sarasota, Fla., with Minor League hitting coordinator Ryan Jackson.

"I'd like to be a little more consistent and a little more dynamic," LaMarre said. "When I was at school, I hit in the middle of the order and was more consistent. [With Jackson,] I got into a routine and I feel like I am hitting the ball a lot harder. I'm more consistent. Hopefully I will take that once the green light hits and keep it going all year."

Baker taking it slow with Votto early this spring

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- First baseman Joey Votto was among several Reds regulars who were rested during Saturday's game against the Indians.

Reds manager Dusty Baker might temporarily lose Votto to the World Baseball Classic soon if the slugger decides to play for Canada. But Baker wasn't worried about Votto's preparation as he works his way back from a left knee injury.

"We have a long way to go. You've got seven extra games," Baker said. "It's not only Joe, I'm giving some of the other guys [a day off]. I'm playing them to progress them to Opening Day. Joey will let me know. He'll say, 'I need some more at-bats' or 'Hey man, I'm sore today and need a day off.'"

Votto missed 51 games last summer and returned less than 100 percent in September after he needed two surgeries to repair torn cartilage in his left knee. In the Cactus League opener on Friday, Votto was 2-for-3 with two hard-hit singles on the ground including one for a RBI.

"Joey comes to play and at this point knows how to get himself ready and when he feels ready," Baker said. "I don't want him ready right now. I was actually surprised how great he was yesterday."

Votto, the 2010 National League MVP, is usually a slow starter in spring games.

"You can do that when you know yourself," Baker said. "That's how Barry Bonds was."

Worth noting

Also given the day off on Saturday were Jay Bruce, left fielder Ryan Ludwick, catcher Ryan Hanigan and shortstop Zack Cozart. Jack Hannahan started at first base for Joey Votto.

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.