MLB

Baker: Reds want to find right time for Hamilton

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP)

The Cincinnati Reds need a leadoff man and record-breaking speedster Billy Hamilton could fill the spot. Even so, manager Dusty Baker is wary of promoting him too fast.

The 22-year-old Hamilton stole 155 bases this season while splitting time between Double-A and Class-A. He hit .311 during his fourth pro season, then did well in the Arizona Fall League.

Baker said Monday at the winter meetings that Hamilton is still learning how to play center field and become a switch-hitter.

''It's just a tendency to rush him because we've heard so much about him,'' Baker said. ''But are you doing him a disservice by rushing him? That's where the dilemma comes in where people are going to be hollering to see him, whether he's ready or not to play as mistake-free baseball as possible.''

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