Baker: Reds want to find right time for Hamilton

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.”