Given an option, Cincinnati Reds manager Bryan Price would prefer to have center fielder/leadoff batter Billy Hamilton back as soon as possible.
However, with backup center fielder Skip Schumaker now healthy, Price can give the speedy Hamilton time to fully heal the sprained knuckles on his left hand.
Hamilton was injured while making a diving catch in the first inning of Thursday’s game.
It was the second hand injury for Hamilton, who jammed his left middle finger sliding into second base on a steal attempt April 4 against the New York Mets, but Price said he won’t ask Hamilton to adjust his style of play.
Asking Hamilton to change his basestealing style or aggressive approach in center field would be counterproductive, the manager believes.
“You’re more susceptible to injury sliding headfirst, but if he’s more productive that way, you hate to take that away,” Price said. “Making him more conventional takes that speed away.”
Hamilton was out of the starting lineup for the third consecutive game Sunday, but did enter the game as a pinch runner in the seventh inning.
“He still has some soreness,” Price said. “With a day off (Monday), we’ll use these as recovery days. I hope he can be back for the Boston series on Tuesday.”
In 27 games, Hamilton is batting .245 with three doubles, one triple, one home run, and 11 stolen bases in 16 attempts. He has played flawlessly in center field thus far.
Schumaker, activated from the disabled list Saturday, started Sunday in the leadoff spot and went 0-for-5 in the Reds’ 4-3, 10-inning win over the Milwaukee Brewers.
Aroldis Chapman will make his next rehab appearance for Triple-A Louisville on Tuesday. He is expected to start the game and pitch one inning. If all goes well, Chapman would pitch again Wednesday, this time in a relief role. Chapman, who suffered facial fractures when he was struck by a line drive in a spring training game March 19, could rejoin the Reds during a six-game homestand that begins Friday.
Hamilton was not in the starting lineup Sunday for the third consecutive day after spraining knuckles on his left hand while making a sensational diving grab of Carlos Gomez’s line drive for the first out of Thursday night’s game. The Reds expect Hamilton to be back in time for a two-game against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park that begins tomorrow night. Hamilton appeared in Sunday’s game as a pinch runner.
Schumaker, who was activated from the 15-day disabled list Saturday, started Sunday’s game in center field and batted leadoff. He went 0-for-5 with a strikeout. “He’s a guy any manager in the world would love to have on the field,” said Price. “Nothing but positives having him back.”
Jay Bruce was scratched from Sunday’s starting lineup due to left knee soreness. Bruce pinch-hit in the seventh inning and struck out on three pitches. He went 3-for-17 on the just-concluded homestand. Last night they said that he will be out for 3 to 4 weeks with a meniscus tear in his knee, that will need surgery, it’s possible Donald Lutz will be recalled up from Double-A.
Brayan Pena left Sunday’s game in the seventh inning with a left leg injury. Pena said he tweaked something while scoring a run in Saturday’s game. He plans to get treatment on Monday’s off day and be ready for Tuesday’s game against the Red Sox. “I was trying to avoid the home-plate tag (on Saturday) and I kind of slid a little bit. I kind of felt like I tweaked something,” Pena said. “(
Price) noticed that I felt something (in the seventh inning Sunday) and made the decision. I’ll be fine.”