Price confident in Hamilton, shifts
*Reds leadoff man and center fielder Billy Hamilton kept his head up following Monday’s 0-for-4, four strikeout game on Opening Day vs. the Cardinals. Reds manager Bryan Price was asked Monday if Hamilton needed any added encouragement from the team to keep Hamilton confident.
Price said it’s already been given and there is nothing for Hamilton to be worried about.
“He knows he doesn’t have to look over his shoulder here,” Price said. “He’s our center fielder. We’re not looking to evaluate him in two weeks or one game. There are a million stories you can refer back to. Willie Mays going 0-for-20 and wanting to get sent back to Triple-A and Leo Durocher said that will never happen. He’s not the first guy to have an Opening Day where he struggled, especially against the pitching he faced the other day. He had a great spring. He did a great job here in September. We’re very confident he’s ready to be here and thrive. I anticipate that he will electrify us here in the coming games.”
*Twice on Monday, the right-side shift on lefty slugger Matt Adam backfired. Adam hit a lined single to the left side and tapped a 92-foot rolling double inside the third base line for two of the three hits St. Louis had in the game. The outcomes did not have Price re-evaluating about doing more defensive shifts this season.
“He got out in front of a change-up and squibbed it off the end of the bat,” Price said of Adams Wednesday. “That, of course, is hard to defend even if we had [Todd] Frazier in the standard position there at third base.
“Beyond the obvious statistics that we all know and love, one thing we can do is get a better grasp on where hitters will primarily put the ball in play in the ground and in the air. If we can find a way to defend the probabilities than we have in the past, we will do that. Things are going to happen.”
During those shifts, Frazier played on the right side of second base while Zack Cozart remained closest to the shortstop area. That was an effort to disrupt the norm of as few players as possible when re-aligning.
“There’s certainly that familiarity of being around second base with Zack with nobody on still being in that area positioned around the base,” Price said. “It’s better for him, I think, than anybody else.”