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WVPacman
03-06-2007, 01:16 AM
This was back a few days ago so you might have already seen it.

Josh Hamilton off to fast start in comeback
3/5/2007, 4:37 p.m. ET
The Associated Press

SARASOTA, Fla. (AP) Josh Hamilton's comeback is going very well.

The outfielder has been one of the Cincinnati Reds' best hitters in the first week of spring training games, showing his skills haven't deteriorated during years away from the game because of his cocaine addiction.

In Cincinnati's first four games, Hamilton went 8-for-15 with two doubles and an impressively long home run.





"It is good to see a lot of live pitching again," Hamilton said. "I am trying to concentrate on that rather than thinking about not playing for three years. I told the guys last year in New York that I felt good hitting."

Hamilton, 25, returned to baseball last summer, when major league baseball gave him permission to play for Hudson Valley in the New York-Penn League. It was a huge step for Hamilton, a former Devil Rays No. 1 draft pick suspended in 2004 for drug use.

The Reds took a chance on Hamilton in the Rule 5 draft, thinking he could help a lot in the outfield if he could keep his drug addiction under control. They were curious to see how much he had lost during his long time away from the game.

Apparently, not much.

Manager Jerry Narron has been playing Hamilton in the outfield during the early going to get an idea of his skill level. Hamilton has hit the ball hard and hit to the opposite field, an indication that he's sharp.

"We wanted to see if he could use the whole field," Narron said. "He is a real good fielder and he can run real well. I'm very, very, happy for him. I know how hard he's worked. I have to be careful with him and give him a day off."

Center fielder Ken Griffey Jr. still is getting back in shape after breaking his throwing hand in the offseason. Ryan Freel has a sore wrist, so Hamilton has gotten a chance to play in center, a place he likes.

"There is more action there," Hamilton said.

Narron likes what he has seen of Hamilton on defense.

"He only had one or two chances, but he made them easy," Narron said, following Sunday's game in Bradenton against the Pittsburgh Pirates. "He showed us what he can do.

"He has a tremendous arm. That's why they put him in the corner outfield with Tampa Bay. He had one of the best arms in that organization. He's a big strong man and is a tremendous athlete."

Narron isn't surprised that Hamilton is so sharp after years away from the game.

"The guys that came back from World War II like Ted Williams were able to play after being off that long," Narron said.