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03-03-2007, 10:42 AM
Hamilton all smiles as Reds give him a big chance
Manager Narron says slugger will get tons of playing time this month.
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By Hal McCoy

Staff Writer

Saturday, March 03, 2007

FORT MYERS, Fla. The Josh Hamilton Plan is firmly implemented, to the delight of both Hamilton and Cincinnati Reds manager Jerry Narron.

The plan is for Hamilton to get as many spring training at-bats as possible until his swing clicks in or blisters make it impossible for him to hold a bat.

"I don't care if Josh goes 0-for-50 to start the spring, he is going to be in there getting his at-bats," Narron said before Thursday's exhibition opener against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Hamilton took care of that quickly with a single in his second at-bat and a mammoth home run in his third at-bat, "And he hit the ball hard in his first at-bat and could have had three hits," Narron said.

Hamilton was the designated hitter Friday night against the Minnesota Twins, "Batting second to get him as many at-bats as possible, and he'll be in the game right to the end," Narron said.

People still were talking Friday about Hamilton's Thursday home run, which cleared a 30-foot high batter's-eye wall above the center-field fence. It was written that it was the farthest ball Hamilton ever hit, but he disputed that Friday with a smile.

"I hit one when I was at Bakersfield (2002) that was actually measured at 549 feet," he said. "There was a dirt canal behind the ballpark, and it rained a couple days before so it was still kind of wet. They found it stuck in there and marked it off. It was pretty cool."

Hamilton, out of baseball for 3 years with injuries and a suspension from Major League Baseball for drug and alcohol abuse, was on Cloud 18 (double Cloud 9) after Thursday's game.

"I was extremely happy," he said. "You always want to hit one, but it was so much sweeter because it has been 4 to 5 years since I hit one. I wanted to smile coming around second base so bad, then I heard (wife) Katie and the kids screaming, so I couldn't help smiling as I crossed home plate."

Lohse out early in Reds win:

Hamilton had a single in three at-bats and Edwin Encarnacion hit a bases-empty home run, but it was outfielder Bubba Crosby's two-run bloop double that should have been caught that broke a tie in the seventh and lifted the Reds to a 4-2 victory.

Reds pitcher Kyle Lohse, facing his former Twins teammates, left after 1/ innings with a mild strain of his right hamstring, "Something that was a little tight last week, went away, but came back."

Lohse's last pitch crashed into the batting helmet of his friend, Torii Hunter, who was on the ground for several minutes, but unhurt, causing Lohse to say, "Guess I don't throw hard enough to hurt anybody. Hey, he knocked me out of a Texas Hold 'Em game the other night, so it serves him right. Actually, that's the first time I ever hit anybody in the head."

http://www.daytondailynews.com/s/content/oh/story/sports/pro/reds/2007/03/03/ddn030307reds.html