Price not likely to drop Hamilton from leadoff

CINCINNATI — His batting average is .245, not good, and his on-base average is .297, which is really not good, especially for a lead-off hitter.

Don’t, however, ask Cincinnati Reds manager Bryan Price if he might consider dropping Billy Hamilton down in the batting order.

To Price, that’s just shy of baseball heresy. There is only one way he would consider it and with the potent hitters behind Hamilton in the order it isn’t likely to happen.

“I might consider it whenever we struggle to score runs,” he said. “That hasn’t been a huge problem for us. The only time I can remember us struggling to score runs was a brief time right after the All-Star break when we went into a bit of a lullaby.

“That’s the key,” he said. “Are we scoring runs on a regular basis? When he is on base does he influence our offense? He does,” Price added.

PRICE SAYS HE DOESN’T EVEN think about it, doesn’t entertain that thought process, not even standing in the shower after a tough loss.

“He still influences our offense in a positive way,” said Price. “There certainly is room for him to improve. But he is not undercutting our ability to score runs.”

And there is evidence of that, which Price quickly points out.

“I see an offense that has a good flow to it,” he said. “I don’t know if we’d have that same flow if we didn’t have that speed component sitting at the top. I don’t want to hit him down in the order. If you put a guy on top who gets on base and doesn’t run well, now we’re station-to-station. Hamilton creates a sense of panic when he is on base, even at a 30 per cent rate.”

PRICE PULLED OUT A COMPELLING stat about Hamilton by saying, “I was looking at his statistics on the scoreboard during the game the other day. He had 78 runs scored and I looked at the amount of times on base — hits and walks. And I saw that about 50 per cent of the time he is on base he scores runs. I seem to realize there are a lot times he is coming into the dugout and I’m shaking his hand for scoring a run. And I like that. So I’m not in a great hurry to make any changes.”

AS HOT AS EUGENIO SUAREZ has been swinging the bat lately — .333 with eight home runs and 19 RBI in August — he was given Sunday off and Scooter Gennett was at third base, Jose Peraza at second and Zack Cozart at shortstop.

“There is a method to the madness,” said Price. “Jose Peraza is 8 for 10 against this guy (Pittsburgh starter Jameson Tallion). Eugenio Suarez has been playing great, but this is just his second day off this month. I earmarked this game to give him a day off and to get Jose in there for a couple of days in a row.”

AS MANAGER OF THE Pittsburgh Pirates, Clint Hurdle had a dugout seat when Cincinnati Reds rookie pitcher Luis Castillo held his team at one run and three hits and nine strikeouts in seven innings Saturday night.

And what was Hurdle’s first word when asked about Castillo?

“Wow,” he said. “That was the best slider I’ve seen in a long time.”

When Reds vice president/assistant general manager Nick Krall heard a couple of writers on an elevator discussing what Hurdle said about Castillo’s slider, Krall said, “What was that he said?”

When he was told, Krall said, “The slider was one pitch we were on the fence about with Castillo when the season began. But I saw him throw in the bullpen at Pensacola halfway through the season and his slider was outstanding. Danny Darwin (Pensacola pitching coach) has done a great job with Luis on his breaking pitches.”

Said Hurdle, expanding on his evaluation of Castillo, “He was impressive. That’s the beautiful thing about getting to watch a guy in a game, a dugout view versus a video. His stuff looked good on video, but it looked way better from the dugout.

“His fastball was down with great finish and his breaking ball was real effective and sharp,” Hurdle added. “He has good rhythm and pace — just a good-looking prospect who is obviously going to spend some time up here. That was a very impressive outing.”

THE REDS HINTED THAT maybe Bronson Arroyo could pitch a farewell inning late this season, but Arroyo said his arm won’t permit it.

OK, since he is an accomplished guitarist and singer, about performing the National Anthem. “I’ve never sung it publicly and don’t think that’s a good idea,” he said.

So the final decision is a fantastic one. On Sept. 23, when the Boston Red Sox are in town, the probability is high that Arroyo will perform a post-game concert.

THE MEDIA WAS GATHERED in Hurdle’s office before Sunday’s game, ready for their daily briefing. Before Hurdle began, former Reds relief pitcher and coach Tom Hume stuck his head in the door. Hume and Hurdle played together on the 1982 Reds team.

Hurdle jumped from his chair and raced to the door and said, “Excuse me, but this guy is more important.”

REDS MANAGER BRYAN PRICE was sprouting a goatee over the last week or so but shaved it off after Saturday night’s game.

“My wife was not happy that I shaved it off because she liked it,” said Price. “But it is a little too much manscaping.”

Quote of the Day

Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle, talking about the video available and three scouting reports he had on Reds rookie Tyler Mahe: “I don’t understand how we played this game 30 years ago, but we pulled it off pretty good.”

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