"I think it's a great opportunity, especially being in the National League," Nelson said. "I have a chance to be a utility man, and with the double-switches, there could be a chance for playing time. It could be a good fit for me."
Nelson sometimes works out in the offseason with Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips. Both attended Redan High School in Stone Mountain, Ga.
"It's exciting having the chance to play with Brandon," Nelson said. "I always enjoyed watching him on TV and getting with him during the winter every now and then."
Nelson, 28, is a .268/.312/.399 hitter in 255 career big league games over four seasons. He was the ninth overall pick in the 2004 First-Year Player Draft by the Rockies. Last season, he played for the Rox, Yankees and Angels and batted .227 in 64 games.
Most of Nelson's experience has been at third base (177 games) and second base (56 games), but he has played a little bit at shortstop (three games) as well.
Before Nelson, Cincinnati already had a few potential backup infielders in camp, including Skip Schumaker, Jack Hannahan, Kris Negron and Henry Rodriguez.
Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Mark My Word, and follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon. reporter Thomas Harding contributed to this report. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.