Billy Hamilton to lead off Reds lineup - for now

Posted at 3:33 PM, Feb 24, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-24 15:33:43-05

GOODYEAR, Ariz. - Billy Hamilton will be the Reds’ leadoff man — at least at the start of the season. 

Hamilton struggled at the plate last season, hitting .226 with a .274 on-base percentage.

“I think he’s a major-league player,” manager Bryan Price said. “Really, the question is: Is he a leadoff man or is he better suited to hitting someplace in the lineup? That to me is the only question that’s left to answer. He is a difference-making defender.

“He’ll hit leadoff with a lot of optimism from his coaching staff and front office that he can handle that job and continue to grow into it. If we have to make any adjustments, I’ll make those adjustments. But he’s going to get every shot to be the leadoff guy.”

Price has been pleased with the camp so far. 

“We’ve had so many guys show up early before the pitchers and catchers showed up,” he said. “I think we had every catcher in camp early. We had 13 or 14 guys a day on the lower fields hitting. I think there’s a great sense of opportunity here.

"There is an excitement about young guys coming from organizations where they may not have felt like they had the same opportunity. They’re coming to the Reds feeling there are some positions open, with a real chance to get to the big leagues over the course of the next year or two. Everybody wants that optimism, right? I think a lot of these guys are taking it to heart.”

The Reds planned on having live batting practice Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday. That’s a little different than their schedule in the past few years.

“Mark Riggins (new Reds pitching coach) has done some really nice things,” Price said. “As much as you don’t like change, there’s also good things to change from me to the next guy to the next guy as a pitching coach. He’s brought in some good ideas and Jim Riggleman and Freddie (Benavides) as well, just with the way that our practices are going and things of that nature.

"We’ve made it three groups (of pitchers) and it’s got a better flow to it. You guys have your groundhog day and to a certain degree, we do too. If we can disrupt that a little bit, it’s a nice bonus.”