Reds third baseman Todd Frazier welcomed Billy Hamilton to the big leagues Monday by giving him a gift: a collectible Todd Frazier figurine.
Hamilton wasted no time unwrapping it. That’s a rookie mistake. Everyone knows those type of souvenirs — whether it’s Todd Frazier or Han Solo — lose their value if they’re opened.
One could argue Hamilton should have given Frazier a souvenir, instead of the other way around, because the speedy center fielder instantly became one of the more famous Reds when he was promoted to the majors on Monday for the first time.
Hamilton, who stole a pro baseball record 155 bases two seasons ago, has 381 stolen bases in four full seasons in the minors. The Reds have 319 in that span.
Hamilton didn’t play Monday in the Reds’ 7-2 victory over the Cardinals at Great American Ball Park. He’s expected to be a late-inning sub or pinch runner, giving the Reds a threat on the basepaths they didn’t have — a threat few teams have. He’s that fast.
But Monday was about stepping into a big-league clubhouse as a major leaguer for the first time.
“I was shocked and amazed,” Hamilton said. “It’s fun to be here. I’m just looking forward to being around the guys a little more.”
Hamilton hit .256 this season with 75 stolen bases in his first season with Triple-A Louisville.
“The first half, I put a lot of pressure on myself,” Hamilton said. “I wasn’t playing my game. I was thinking too much. I was trying to play too hard. I knew once I started relaxing and playing my game, it would come together. After the first half, I got home and talked to my mom. She said, ‘Be yourself. Relax a little bit and play the game.’ After that, it started going good for me.”
Hamilton has also grown used to center field after making the switch from shortstop after last season. The Reds could lose Shin-Soo Choo to free agency after this season, opening the door for Hamilton to earn a full-time job in the big leagues.
“When I first got out (to center), I thought it was going to take a couple of years to get used to it,” Hamilton said. “But I learned from (Eric Davis) and the guys who have been playing it. I came along pretty well, and I enjoy myself. There’s a lot of running out there. It’s fun.”