Redsfest is in full swing back in Cincinnati, and amid the autograph signings and photo-ops there's been a predictable amount of token-speak being relayed by both players and management.
They're in the best shape of their lives. They don't foresee setbacks. They're ignoring trade rumors and just focusing on baseball. They're looking to make moves to improve the team. They wanted to stop switch hitting, but the team said no.
So, maybe not everything said has been bland and predictable.
MLB.com's Mark Sheldon caught up with Billy Hamilton yesterday, and while hearing about how Hamilton's torn labrum has healed enough for him to be cleared to get back to baseball we found that the Cincinnati Reds CF had wanted to abandon hitting from the left side of the plate (to no avail).
Also part of Hamilton's future is more switch hitting. The natural right-hander wanted to give up batting left-handed but it was decided by the organization he should stick with it.
"Whatever they want me to do, I'm going to do," Hamilton said. "I'm going to go along with it as long as I can and see how I do. I don't want to be in a situation like I was last year - not being comfortable with it. For sure, this time if I'm not comfortable with it, I'm letting them know. I don't want to be out there embarrassing myself."
That's a pretty startling string of revelations, ones that I'm guessing the Reds aren't terribly proud to find in media circulation this morning. Not only does Hamilton not currently feel confident about switch-hitting, he hinted that he hasn't felt comfortable with it for quite some time. There's also an undertone in that statement that implies that there was a significant confidence issue he had hitting unnaturally left-handed, and it's obvious that it's something that's nowhere close to a completed transition.
For his career to date, Hamilton owns a measly .239/.289/.316 line in 812 PA hitting lefty against right-handed pitching, compared to a better (but still meager) .253/.284/.370 line in his 275 PA hitting naturally righty against left-handed pitching. That, though, hardly scratches the surface of the entire story of Hamilton's hitting, since he's never faced right-handed pitching at the big league level while hitting as a righty (and there's no way to know how many reps he's lost of right-handed hitting practice in his attempt to learn to switch hit).
For now, it's obviously still a bit of a murky situation, but it's clearly one that the team probably hopes had remained behind closed doors. They'll also surely hope that Hamilton's new labrum is the key to unlocking his offensive potential, regardless of which batter's box he's batting in.