Cincinnati Reds' Billy Hamilton is safe at third with a stolen base against the St. Louis Cardinals during the first inning of a baseball game, Friday, Sept. 2, 2016, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Gary Landers)

Strained oblique will sideline Reds speedster Billy Hamilton

They were hoping that the test would show the strain of his left oblique that forced him to leave Sunday’s game against the St. Louis Cardinals wasn’t too severe.

“It looks like it might not be a season-ender, but it will be several days before we can talk about resuming baseball activities,” Reds manager Bryan Price said after Monday’s 5-0 loss to the Mets. “It will be a topic of conversation for the next several days.”

Hamilton lobbied briefly to stay in the game after suffering the injury on a barely noticeable checked swing in the third inning, but first baseman Joey Votto and shortstop Zack Cozart lobbied even harder for Hamilton to leave.

“I know that something small can turn into season-ending,” Cozart said. “We were looking out for him.”

The must-watch Hamilton, who turns 26 years old on Friday, is hitting .260 and leading the major leagues with a career-high 58 stolen bases, but he hit .295 and stole 36 bases in 45 games since the All-Star break while continuing to play a Gold Glove-caliber center field, including several highlight-reel, run-saving plays.

This is the second consecutive season that Hamilton has dealt with an possible season-ending September injury. He missed the last 17 games of the 2015 season with right shoulder problems that eventually required arthroscopic surgery to repair.

Price said rookie Jose Peraza will most likely get the bulk of the playing time in center field in Hamilton’s absence. Peraza was Cincinnati’s leadoff hitter and made his fifth appearance as the Reds’ center fielder on Monday. The start in center was his first since July 4.

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