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Ask Hal: Even if they wanted to, Reds can’t trade Votto

Hall of Fame baseball writer Hal McCoy knows a thing or two about our nation’s pastime. Tap into that knowledge by sending an email to

Q: Is there any incentive for a player to play good against a team paying his salary? — DAVE, Miamisburg/Centerville/Beavercreek.

A: You are, of course, referring to DatDudeBP, a.k.a Brandon Phillips. He plays for the Atlanta Braves, but the Cincinnati Reds are paying $13 million of his $14 million salary. That shows how much the Reds wanted to get rid of him. Knowing Phillips, he wants to tear down Great American Ball Park with his bat this weekend just to show up the Reds. And he gets a chance to visit his money.

Q: Should the Reds trade Joey Votto so they can free up money and add more pieces? — JON, Louisville.

A: I’m not picking on you because I hear it all the time from general managers, managers and broadcasters. I despise the term “pieces” when referring to ballplayers. They are human beings, although sometimes they are treated like pieces of meat. Anyway, Votto is going nowhere. He has a no-trade clause so the Reds can’t trade him without his permission. He won’t give it. He has said over and over that he likes it in Cincinnati and wants to stay. He’ll be 40 when the current contract expires so get used to watching a future Hall of Famer in a Reds uniform.

Q: Can a batter who charges the mound and/or a pitcher who fights back be charged with assault and battery or is punishment confined to the MLB? — VICKI, Dayton.

»WATCH: Opponent fires baseball at Dragons player during brawl

»EXTRA: Phillips calls Reds player wearing No. 4 a ‘slap in the face’

A: As long as either player uses only his fists it stays within baseball. But if they use a weapon, like a baseball or a bat, they can be charged. Julio Castillo, a visiting minor-league pitcher, spent 30 days in jail in 2009 ago after throwing a baseball into the stands during a 2008 game at Fifth Third Field in Dayton. Baseball’s most infamous incident happened in 1965 when Hall of Fame pitcher Juan Marichal hit catcher John Roseboro with a bat, opening a wound that required 14 stitches. Roseboro sued Marichal for $110,000 and the settlement was $7,500.

Q: Can the Reds use Tucker Barnhart to DH and Devin Mesoraco to catch and if Mesoraco gets hurt can Barnhart become the catcher and another player become the DH? — MARTIN/Cincinnati

A: Not possible. If a team inserts a designated hitter into a defensive position, the team loses the DH and the pitcher would have to hit in Mesoraco’s spot. In addition, the DH may not be used as part of a double switch. If the DH is batting fifth, whoever the DH is must bat fifth the entire game. No matter how it is used, I still despise the DH. Baseball is played with a bat and a glove, not just a bat.

Q: The Dayton Dragons wear the initials “GHS” on their sleeves. Who does that honor? — LARRY, Piqua.

A: Not just the Dragons wear GHS on their sleeves. All 16 Midwest League teams wear it, and the umpires. It is in memory of George H. Spelius. He was president of the Midwest League for 28 years, retiring after the 2014 season. He also helped found the Beloit Snappers, a Midwest League member. Spelius died last September at age 83.

Q: Pitcher Sal Romano tweeted that he is 100 percent healthy, so how many minutes until he and Lisalverto Bonilla trade places? — JOHN, Fairfield.

A: If they do a documentary on the 2017 Cincinnati Reds, the title should be “Trading Places.” Minutes? How about seconds? The Reds move pitchers back and forth like a money launderer moves cash in the Cayman Islands. And because seven pitchers are on the disabled list, it is necessary. It is a matter of throwing enough mud against the wall that some of it might stick.

Q: Since there have been only three players in Reds history with 200 or more hits in a season, do you think Joey Votto or any other Reds player can do it this year? — LEE, Dayton.

A: They may have had only three guys do it, but Pete Rose did it nine times while with the Reds. One-third of the season is gone and Votto has 52 hits in 52 games. Zack Cozart has 58 hits. Even if Votto plays all 162 games and even if Cozart is not traded at the deadline, they won’t collect 200 hits. That’s a tough milestone reached by few these days.

Q: Which was the greatest Reds season you ever saw? Mine is 1990. — JAY, Englewood.

A: While the 1990 team was my all-time favorite, the greatest season for me was 1976 when The Big Red Machine won 102 games, finished 10 games ahead of the second-place Los Angeles Dodgers in the NL West, then won seven straight postseason games. They beat the Philadelphia Phillies in the NLCS three straight (it was best-of-five then) and swept four straight from the mighty but then stunned New York Yankees in the World Series. The 1975 Reds won 108 games and won the famous World Series against the Red Sox in seven games, but the ‘76 team impressed me more.

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