Williams is striving to stockpile young players who can play multiple positions. Left fielder Adam Duvall, a Gold Glove finalist, came up as a corner infielder. Peraza has played mostly shortstop and second base but is listed as an outfielder on the roster and played a lot of center field this past September while Billy Hamilton was nursing an early-September quadriceps injury that eventually forced him to miss the rest of the year.
“We’re trying to get away from having eight everyday players and four bench players,” Williams said. “We’re trying to groom a lot of these guys to play multiple positions. We’re looking for versatility and flexibility.”
Williams and manager Bryan Price are confident that, even if Cozart and Phillips still are with Cincinnati in 2017, they will be able to find sufficient playing time for Peraza. Price likes the everyday players he has, especially if Hamilton and catcher Devin Mesoraco return from their injuries. Mesoraco played in 16 games last season before being sidelined with shoulder and hip surgeries.
“I think we’ll be better just by being more intact,” said Price, whose team finished last in the National League Central Division with a 68-94 record in his third season as manager. “Then you add a couple of pieces and there’s even more of a reason to be excited.”
Mesoraco and Hamilton both claimed to be feeling good.
“Everything’s going as planned,” said Mesoraco, a 2014 National League All-Star who’s been limited by injury to a combined 39 games over the last two seasons. “I’ve been lifting. I’ll start throwing and hitting next week. I’ll start catching drills in January, when I would normally start them anyway.”
Hamilton took October off to make sure his oblique was healed. He has spent much of his time in Cincinnati, working out under the supervision of coach Billy Hatcher with trainer Steve Baumann keeping a watchful eye.
“I’m doing everything now — swinging, running,” said the Gold Glove finalist, who hit .260 with 58 stolen bases in 119 games. “I’m full go. I’ve been looking forward to the off-season.”
Hamilton’s name also has been mentioned in multiple media reports as possibly being dangled by the Reds as trade bait.
“If the Reds feel like they’d be better without me than with me, they should go for it,” he said. “It’s not for me to dwell on it. It’s not bothering me.”