PDA

View Full Version : Hamilton Leave 'em Awestruck



minus5
03-05-2007, 11:51 AM
Article from Wheeler:

http://news.cincypost.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070305/SPT05/703050344/1027


SARASOTA, Fla. - The discussion always comes back to the years Josh Hamilton was away from the game. There were four of them, counting the partials and the days he doesn't remember; the days he gave over to Crown Royal and whatever substances got him his drug suspension; the days he spent in the tattooist's chair, covering his 235 pounds - which fast became fewer - as if he wanted them to go away; the days he would see things that weren't there, such as a SWAT team outside his apartment window.

Now, though, in a Reds uniform for the first time, with a chance to make a major-league roster for the first time; now that he's 25 and a husband and father and straight; now that the exhibition season has started and Jerry Narron can't write out a lineup without sticking him in it; now, at last, the Hamilton prattle is rounding back to pure, rarefied baseball. To all the years he was not away from the game, but in it with all his soul and body. Now, as his early batting average straddles .500, as balls whistle over outfielders' heads, as he blends into his surroundings with a familiarity that seems to make it simple, those are the years that count.

Back in North Carolina, Hamilton was the kind of athlete who could have had his way in any sport. But for him, there was no sport like baseball.

"Josh played the game from the time he was very young, and he focused on baseball," said Reds coach Johnny Narron, who, as a father of a son who played with and against the man-child, has watched and sometimes coached Hamilton since way back when. "Coming up, he played an awful lot of games in the spring, summer and fall. He knows the game and he's been around people who know the game; and he applies it.

"When he was a kid, Josh was so dominant that parents were asking directors of leagues to move him up so he wouldn't hurt somebody. He hit the ball so well and threw the ball so hard that it was always a concern."

By the time Hamilton was a teenager, Narron was managing the "showcase" team, as they called it, and, in his professional capacity as a scout for the Atlanta Braves, tracking the prodigy's progress. There was only one reservation about the kid's talent or makeup or total package. When he graduated from high school, would he be taken as the first overall draft pick as a pitcher, or would be taken with the first pick as a hitter?

The Tampa Bay Devil Rays, who did the picking and bestowed upon Hamilton a record signing bonus, asked the kid, whose answer was that he didn't want to let a ballgame go by without playing in it. Nor did the experts want him to.

"That was one of the things the scouts talked a lot about," Narron recalled. "He was throwing the ball 94, 95 miles an hour, and sometimes 97 or 98 off the mound, and he was a left-hander with movement in high school (250 strikeouts in 143 innings over his last two years). But the thing the scouts all agreed on was that he was so talented athletically, and with all the tools he possessed, he needed to play every day. And if that didn't work out, they could possibly put him on the mound later."

By the look of things lately - and in spite of the fact that Hamilton has blithely offered his services to Jerry Narron as a late-inning reliever - that's not likely to happen. Take Saturday, against the Twins at Ed Smith Stadium.

In his first at-bat, Hamilton, after taking a strike and fouling another, worked the count full before bouncing a double over the wall in left-center. In his second, he smoked the first pitch to right-center for another double. In his third, he ripped the first pitch to left for a single. In his fourth, he walked. In his fifth, he popped up. In no at-bat did he swing and miss even once. In none did he lurch to pull the ball, as young power hitters so infamously do.

It was the kind of performance that would seem to make Hamilton's roster spot all the more inevitable. As a Rule 5 selection, the Reds are obligated to keep the five-tooler on the major-league team or return him to Tampa Bay. With his possibilities, they're loath to do the latter.

And frankly, Hamilton has given them no reason to. Forget his neon potential for a moment, and consider just his utility value. Unlike Wily Mo Pena, a man of similar physical wherewithal, Hamilton is possessed of a natural's feel for the game. He runs the bases with above-average speed and savvy. He has an arm like Homer Bailey's. And while we haven't yet seen much of his glove, he wears it proudly.

"I still think defense is probably my best strength," Hamilton said Sunday, between a batting cage session with Johnny Narron and hopping on the bus to Bradenton, where he played center field and batted cleanup.

It was in Bradenton, in Thursday's first game of the spring, that Hamilton fully and finally got back that old baseball feeling. He had been reinstated last June, and played in 15 Class A games before shutting down for arthroscopic surgery on his meniscus. He had worked out all winter with both Narrons. For a while, he had even lived at a ballpark in Clearwater, tending the field for the privilege of practicing on it when the day was done. All of that was swell. But it wasn't this.

"I can't describe how good it feels to be back out here and be around my teammates and be on the field and pat my glove before pitches and be out here in the sunshine," Hamilton said. He didn't mention how good it felt, that first game in Bradenton, to club a 500-foot home run over the batter's eye in straightaway center. And that wasn't the best part of the day.

"I rode home with my wife," he said - with respect to temptation, he doesn't even carry car keys - "and I still had my uniform on, and we stopped at a Dairy Queen and ate, and it almost felt like I was back in Legion ball. When I got home, I took my uniform off and I just looked and it and was kind of awestruck that I was wearing it again."

Meanwhile, those observing Hamilton's comeback have been awestruck not only by his power, but by his performance at large. No amount of rust can conceal the shimmering fact that the Reds have a ballplayer on their hands.

"The thing I've liked and been encouraged by," said Johnny Narron, whose job description includes personal support for Hamilton, "is how well he's been able to adapt and be calm and quiet and at ease at the plate. Early on, my concern was that he would be too violent and overly aggressive. But I've seen that relaxation come over him. That's real important to me.

"He's also got great eyesight. He even comments to me how well he sees the ball to the bat and even coming back off the bat, which I don't know if that's possible or not."

Then again, who would have thought it possible for a guy in his first game with a big-league team, after nearly four years out of baseball, to hit a 500-home run, and then go 8-for-15, and do it all under the scrutiny of national media, while fighting a drug addiction?

It's still a grim gauntlet that Hamilton has to run, and there's no telling, at this early point, how its perils will play out. But in the meantime, his first few days have prompted another pertinent question:

Who would have thought the Reds would come up with a player like this?

paintmered
03-05-2007, 12:02 PM
"I rode home with my wife and I still had my uniform on, and we stopped at a Dairy Queen and ate, and it almost felt like I was back in Legion ball. When I got home, I took my uniform off and I just looked and it and was kind of awestruck that I was wearing it again."


Quote of the spring. :thumbup:

The_jbh
03-05-2007, 12:08 PM
over/under the opening day OF is
RF Griffey
CF Hamilton
LF Dunn

???

is he the player to push Griffey to Right?
He can develop if he plays every day...
he has the talent...

its interesting...

BRM
03-05-2007, 12:09 PM
over/under the opening day OF is
RF Griffey
CF Hamilton
LF Dunn

???

is he the player to push Griffey to Right?
He can develop if he plays every day...
he has the talent...

its interesting...

I can't see Hamilton starting on Opening Day unless multiple injuries hammer the Reds. I'd say Freel has the inside track to be the 3rd starting outfielder right now.

minus5
03-05-2007, 12:32 PM
The part I loved was, as great as he hits the ball and throws the ball, he considers his defense to be his strong suit.

TOBTTReds
03-05-2007, 12:40 PM
Quote of the spring. :thumbup:

That is awesome.

lollipopcurve
03-05-2007, 12:42 PM
This kid is a superior talent. What's cool is there are no real comps for him -- some have compared him to WW2 vets, guys who left the majors to fight in the war for years and then got back on the diamond -- but here's a guy who took development time off, suffered through drug addiction and grew physically. What now? Who knows? But it certainly appears as if the tools are intact.

A great, great move by Krivsky and his FO. Any other team in baseball could have had Hamilton in the Rule V, but only 1 did what it took to get him -- for nothing.

flyer85
03-05-2007, 12:57 PM
Optimism is a wonderful thing but for the most part pitchers are working on things at this point and results are NOT the primary concern(at least for those assured of a roster spot).

It seems the Reds won't be sending him back to the Eggs but lets wait 3-4 weeks before anointing him the CF and an opening day starter. At this point its just one day at a time.

What seems likely to me is that Denorfia doesn't really have a spot on this team unless a trade is made(Hopper would make more sense as the 5th OF anyway).

BRM
03-05-2007, 01:02 PM
Optimism is a wonderful thing but for the most part pitchers are working on things at this point and results are NOT the primary concern(at least for those assured of a roster spot).

It seems the Reds won't be sending him back to the Eggs but lets wait 3-4 weeks before anointing him the CF and an opening day starter. At this point its just one day at a time.


Very good point flyer. Patience is the key with Hamilton.

Ltlabner
03-05-2007, 01:06 PM
Optimism is a wonderful thing but for the most part pitchers are working on things at this point and results are NOT the primary concern(at least for those assured of a roster spot).

It seems the Reds won't be sending him back to the Eggs but lets wait 3-4 weeks before anointing him the CF and an opening day starter. At this point its just one day at a time.

What seems likely to me is that Denorfia doesn't really have a spot on this team unless a trade is made(Hopper would make more sense as the 5th OF anyway).

Lets pretend that as ST wears on, and pitchers really start to turn up the heat, that Hamilton still continues to play very well. Then what?

Hand him a position? That seems unlikely

Put him on the bench as use a fill in the OF until a spot opens up? Seems like the wisest course of action. Plus, if he still rakes, what a great addition to the bench.

Go through the dance of sending him to AAA, working out a deal with the Marlins or whatever so we can stash him away. Seems like if he continues to play well the Marlins wouldn't be too likely to not want him back.

I have to be honest here. Let's say he plays very well, I'm actually a little afraid that just handing him a starting position might be bad for him. From a sobriety standpoint, would that go to his head? Would he start to get arrogent again and think he could handle it? Would it be better than he have to continue to earn his stripes? Sometimes a little humility is a great thing and it may pay off in spades if he hangs around the club for longer because of it.

BRM
03-05-2007, 01:09 PM
I agree with you Ltlabner. I wouldn't simply hand him a starting spot no matter how well he plays in spring. Ease him along during the season. There will be plenty of at-bats for the 4th and 5th outfielders.

By the way, it's the Rays not the Marlins. ;)

Ltlabner
03-05-2007, 01:10 PM
I agree with you Ltlabner. I wouldn't simply hand him a starting spot no matter how well he plays in spring. Ease him along during the season. There will be plenty of at-bats for the 4th and 5th outfielders.

By the way, it's the Rays not the Marlins. ;)

Details, details. Sorry bout that. :all_cohol <------ too much too early

Joseph
03-05-2007, 01:33 PM
In his first at-bat, Hamilton, after taking a strike and fouling another, worked the count full before bouncing a double over the wall in left-center. In his second, he smoked the first pitch to right-center for another double. In his third, he ripped the first pitch to left for a single. In his fourth, he walked. In his fifth, he popped up. In no at-bat did he swing and miss even once. In none did he lurch to pull the ball, as young power hitters so infamously do.


Got to love those comments.

berryluther
03-05-2007, 01:46 PM
What is so impressive is that before the ST started he knew he had to impress the powers that be. Instead of going all out and trying to hit a bunch of HR's he is patient and making contact. Which puts him ahead of all the other OF's on this roster.

IMO if Hamilton makes the roster Freel or Deno will be traded. Whats so hard to believe that Hamilton could surplant Freel in the OF. Freel can't play everyday and strikes out a bunch. I think if ST proves that he is one of the top 3 OF's on this team then he deserves the spot regardless of his lack of experience.

I'm caught up in the whole "Natural" story line, but isnt it about time a Reds fan had something to root for?

Highlifeman21
03-05-2007, 01:47 PM
Optimism is a wonderful thing but for the most part pitchers are working on things at this point and results are NOT the primary concern(at least for those assured of a roster spot).

It seems the Reds won't be sending him back to the Eggs but lets wait 3-4 weeks before anointing him the CF and an opening day starter. At this point its just one day at a time.

What seems likely to me is that Denorfia doesn't really have a spot on this team unless a trade is made(Hopper would make more sense as the 5th OF anyway).


The Reds giving up on Chris Denorfia for the likes of Norris Hopper would be a prime example of an act of criminal stupidity. I don't know who would get the most blame, Jerry Narron, or Wayne Krivsky.

I would hope that Krivsky would have the stones and the GM presence to pull Narron aside and smack some serious sense into him if Narron actually believes Hopper deserves a 25 man roster spot before Denorfia.

top6
03-05-2007, 01:52 PM
this sounds great. i hope we don't end up with another willy mo on our hands thought - i.e., a player taking up a roster spot who needs more time to develop in the minors. also, i don't want to deal with a weekly thread about how we can't send him down to the minors.

i just hope narron and company will play him, even if it means less playing time for veterans who know how to win.

The_jbh
03-05-2007, 05:32 PM
I wasn't saying I thought he should get thrown into the starting role... I wanted to know what people thought the over/under on it would be...

I agree that he should get eased in, but I feel he could be very much a part of the revolving door in CF in April... I think Conine pushes Deno out of the roster and Hamilton Freel Griffey and Conine all move around CF and RF (obviously no Conine in CF) but I do think Hamilton could eventually be the guy to push Griffey to RF for the rest of his career

jimbo
03-05-2007, 05:58 PM
Let's say he plays very well, I'm actually a little afraid that just handing him a starting position might be bad for him.

If he continues through spring training on the same pace he is now on, and coupled with the fact he is a very good outfielder, if he was named the starting the center fielder I don't think he would have had it handed to him.......he would have had earned it.

jmac
03-05-2007, 06:36 PM
If he continues through spring training on the same pace he is now on, and coupled with the fact he is a very good outfielder, if he was named the starting the center fielder I don't think he would have had it handed to him.......he would have had earned it.

:thumbup:

Jr's Boy
03-05-2007, 07:08 PM
"He's also got great eyesight. He even comments to me how well he sees the ball to the bat and even coming back off the bat, which I don't know if that's possible or not."


That's his best asset in my humble opinion.You can't teach that.

OnBaseMachine
03-05-2007, 07:38 PM
I love this kid. He should win Comeback Player of the Year even if he receives only one atbat this season. Awesome story.

CINCYREDS#1
03-05-2007, 07:46 PM
hes a sweet hitter

mth123
03-05-2007, 11:05 PM
Lets pretend that as ST wears on, and pitchers really start to turn up the heat, that Hamilton still continues to play very well. Then what?

Hand him a position? That seems unlikely

Put him on the bench as use a fill in the OF until a spot opens up? Seems like the wisest course of action. Plus, if he still rakes, what a great addition to the bench.

Go through the dance of sending him to AAA, working out a deal with the Marlins or whatever so we can stash him away. Seems like if he continues to play well the Marlins wouldn't be too likely to not want him back.

I have to be honest here. Let's say he plays very well, I'm actually a little afraid that just handing him a starting position might be bad for him. From a sobriety standpoint, would that go to his head? Would he start to get arrogent again and think he could handle it? Would it be better than he have to continue to earn his stripes? Sometimes a little humility is a great thing and it may pay off in spades if he hangs around the club for longer because of it.

I say if he keeps up the pace he is on now, you play him until he stops hitting.

The knock on him is that he hasn't played much in 4 years. I'd think that type of problem would show itself right away no matter what the pitchers are throwing. Given his fast start, I don't know what to think now. This kid might be so special that he'll just keep going. At this point, the Reds really have nothing to lose by allowing him 50 to 100 ABs at the start of the year (if he continues hitting like this all spring that is) to try and show that Spring wasn't a fluke.

Mario-Rijo
03-05-2007, 11:33 PM
I have quietly wondered since we acquired him, what if.....?! As I'm sure most around here have. Except that one of the 1st things that occured too me was, what if he has the success?

Success in itself can often times be the one thing that can bring you down from that lofty perch which you have just attained. Of course it's extremely pre-mature to expect that Hamilton will have a seamless transition from literally down and out to major league star. But it's a thought that although I don't like dwelling on (or putting in others minds), it needs to be remembered nonetheless.

He as well as everyone else needs to be conscious of the possibility that it can go down the drain real fast if things become too much too soon. However he does have faith in the lord and that will go a long way in aiding him with the trappings of success/failure.

Be easy Josh, be easy! :thumbup:

vaticanplum
03-05-2007, 11:33 PM
I have to stop reading human interest stories on Josh Hamilton. I will allow myself to get excited over his baseball playing, but this is too much. Usually stories that the press takes and runs with like this turn me off very quickly, but this one has got me hook, line and sinker. Damn this kid. Shouldn't there be a limit on the number of baseball players who do this to you in a lifetime? Because I feel like I should have gotten past this limit about ten years ago, and they just keep turning up. He stopped at Dairy Queen on the way home? He stares at his uniform in the closet? He's happy to JUST BE OUT IN THE SUNSHINE?! For crying out loud.

Razor Shines
03-05-2007, 11:39 PM
"He's also got great eyesight. He even comments to me how well he sees the ball to the bat and even coming back off the bat, which I don't know if that's possible or not."


That's his best asset in my humble opinion.You can't teach that.

I agree that's Babe Ruth, Ted Williams (not saying he's in their class of baseball player) and Chuck Yeager eyesight, if he can really do it.

Caveat Emperor
03-05-2007, 11:42 PM
At this point its just one day at a time.

Given where he's been, this philosophy probably sums up his entire life.

To say I'm pulling for this guy would be the understatement of the century. I refuse to allow myself to get too excited by hammering opening weekend spring pitching -- but you take it one day at a time and enjoy the ride along the way.

RedlegJake
03-06-2007, 08:43 AM
I try not to be too excited but let's face it - this kid could be the story of many, many years for the Reds - and a magnificent acquisition, too. Now I'm beginning to see a Hamilton - Bruce - Dunn outfield in the near future and a Votto - EE - BP infield (maybe Valaika too?), WOW! Just last year at this time I was wondering if the Reds would ever again have a future to look forward to. Hamilton's human interest story is just too incredible to ignore - I am rooting for this kid all the way.

David Cubbedge
03-06-2007, 02:33 PM
I have been calling for Freel to start for 2 straight seasons. But now that Freel's only option is to play the outfield, he is very much in contention. And for the first time in two years, I will say that this is rightfully so.

Prior to this season, the Reds outfield has had many occassions where the RF spot was a spot with a lot of competition. Kearns was the young "phenom" coming in and he had a lot of guys ready to step up and take the job from him. Guys like Juan Encarnacion, Jose Guillen, and Wily Mo Pena gave him a run for his money. But eventually Kearns drove them all out of town. Deserving or not, I see a similar scenario in the works now.

The difference in this one is that the new "phenom" is fighting for the position he likely has no chance at getting. For now, Josh Hamilton is simply fighting for a spot on the roster. Whereas the other deserved individual(s) (namely Freel) will get there shot as Hamilton looks on from the bench.

We could say that this is the right way to go as Freel very much deserves a chance to start. He is the spark plug for this team. He doesn't fit anywhere else as a regular other than in the outfield.

But the team would be taking a whole new direction with this approach. If Narron chooses the scrappy veteran over the young untapped potential with an amazing ceiling that none of us can fathom, he may be doing the right thing in many fans eyes. But what happens when that potential wastes away on the bench ie Wily Mo Pena? Will we see another multi-talented would be star in the making become nothing but a glorified pinch hitter? And what happens when Narron chooses Conine as the RF regular when Freel is out?

Mark my words, that will be the biggest complaint from every Reds fan this season. As Hamilton is getting limited ABs, Conine will be sulking in his opportunities to show a "veteran presence." I guarantee you this will be our most talked about topic until Bailey comes up this season.

And then what happens to Denorfia? Does he take a step back due to Hamilton? Or does he sit higher on the depth chart in Narron's eyes? Much of this questioning could be avoided if Narron chose to only play Conine at 1B against LHP. Then it would be a classic battle between Freel, Deno, and Hamilton for the job.

And I never even mentioned Crosby or Hopper. What if one of them impresses Narron a little too much? This could get real sickening.

Superdude
03-06-2007, 04:23 PM
Considering where he's been baseball wise and life in general, the idea that Hamilton could be a starting major league outfielder this year is completely ridiculous, but whether it's because of the sheer entertainment factor or the thousands of sappy, inspiring articles, my logic has gone out the window and something inside me wants to see Hamilton playing.

George Anderson
03-06-2007, 04:56 PM
Considering where he's been baseball wise and life in general, the idea that Hamilton could be a starting major league outfielder this year is completely ridiculous, but whether it's because of the sheer entertainment factor or the thousands of sappy, inspiring articles, my logic has gone out the window and something inside me wants to see Hamilton playing.

While it is way to early to annoint Hamilton the next Peter Edward Rose, it really excites me to look for box scores to see how he is doing. I think Hamilton is nothing but a positive for this organization and I think will no doubt quickly become a fan favorite if he already isnt. Its no secret people love a guy who is down and out but overcomes obstacles or demons to succeed. I wouldn't be suprised in the least if on Opening Day we see tons of Hamilton jerseys in the crowd. Now if he bats .100 in the month of April then all bets are off.

Redlegs
03-06-2007, 06:54 PM
I'm rooting for this guy big time. If he succeeds for the Reds, we're all happy. But it's even better in the fact that if he succeeds, it means he has kept his personal deamons in check as well. Win-Win situation in that case.

savafan
03-07-2007, 01:57 AM
While watching Sportscenter tonight, Tim Kurkjian reported from spring training that one major league scout said that Josh Hamilton is the best player he's seen all spring, bar none. That says something right there.

WMR
03-07-2007, 04:33 AM
I know it's totally conjecture...

but where would he be developmentally right now if he'd never left baseball?

Scary.

Ravenlord
03-07-2007, 04:39 AM
I know it's totally conjecture...

but where would he be developmentally right now if he'd never left baseball?

Scary.
he'd either be Miguel Cabrera or Billy Beane.

WMR
03-07-2007, 04:47 AM
he'd either be Miguel Cabrera or Billy Beane.

:laugh:

Jpup
03-07-2007, 08:31 AM
While watching Sportscenter tonight, Tim Kurkjian reported from spring training that one major league scout said that Josh Hamilton is the best player he's seen all spring, bar none. That says something right there.

it's saying something...if you like scouts. ;)

I can't wait to watch Hamilton hit every day. :thumbup:

bucksfan2
03-07-2007, 09:36 AM
he'd either be Miguel Cabrera or Billy Beane.

I think hes a mix between Cabrera and Wells. Bat like Cabrera but has some added value defensively.