CINCINNATI -- Knowing his season is already prematurely over because of a hamstring injury, Reds outfielder Josh Hamilton had no regrets about a rookie season played under a hot spotlight. "I think it was a good year, overall," Hamilton said on Wednesday. "I accomplished some things. Hopefully, I've proved some things to some people. If I didn't, oh well. My confidence has definitely lifted coming out of the season. I feel like baseball is baseball again." Hamilton strained his right hamstring in a Sept. 12 game and hasn't played since. Although, he hadn't swung a bat while the team was away on its 10-day road trip, he talked to the club about trying to play the final week. It was ruled too risky to take any chances, so he's stuck to a rehabilitation program.
"I'm running 100 percent straight forward," Hamilton said. "But they don't want me to do any kind of breaking on balls or anything like that. The most I could do is pinch-hit, but I'd have to get pinch-run for." Media from the sports and news worlds paid close attention to Hamilton's uplifting story this year. The 26-year-old, the No. 1 overall selection by Tampa Bay in 1999's First-Year Player Draft, returned to professional baseball after missing most of the previous four seasons because of drug use and suspensions. At every new city on the road, Hamilton readily granted interview sessions with the media that frequently focused on his past. In his first big league start on April 10 at Arizona, Hamilton's first big league hit was a home run. He went on to hit .292 with 19 home runs and 47 RBIs. His five-tool talent, including a rifle left arm, appeared intact. An early Rookie of the Year favorite, injuries limited him to 90 games this season. Hamilton endured extended stints on the disabled list in May, because of gastroenteritis, and July, with a sprained wrist. "I'm happy about playing 90 games," he said. "I thought I'd be hurt a lot more than I was. I've never been healthy in a season before, plus being off for 3 1/2 years and coming back, I didn't know how my body was going to hold up." Hamilton's hamstring started bothering him in mid-August but he tried to play on. "If I had taken two weeks [off] when it first happened in Chicago, would I be back playing now? Probably," Hamilton said. "But I had just come off the disabled list for the second time and didn't want to go back, so I pushed through it. I think it was the right thing to do at the time." Hamilton will return home to Raleigh, N.C., after the season. Besides weight lifting and speed work, he plans to continue hitting with coach and confidante Johnny Narron. Using improved stretching techniques, he'll try to prepare his body for another grind in his sophomore season. "I'm going to do a lot of the same things I did last offseason, because I think that worked very well," Hamilton said. "If you count Spring Training, I played in about 120 games this year. I played almost every day in spring. That's the most I've played baseball since I've turned professional." Dunn update: Left fielder Adam Dunn had season-ending arthroscopic surgery on his right knee Wednesday morning. Team medical director Dr. Tim Kremchek repaired torn meniscus cartilage and cleaned out the knee in a one-hour procedure. Dunn is expected to fully recover in 4-6 weeks. He batted .264 with 40 home runs and a career-high 106 RBIs this season. Gil activated: Infielder/outfielder Jerry Gil was activated from the 60-day DL after he had missed the entire season. Gil had Tommy John surgery performed on his right elbow May 8 after he was injured during Spring Training. To make room for Gil, Ryan Freel (knee surgery) was transferred to the 60-day DL. Lopez to play: Interim manager Pete Mackanin planned to start infielder Pedro Lopez in Thursday's game vs. Houston. Other than a pinch-running appearance on Friday, Lopez hasn't played since coming off the DL on Sept. 9. He hasn't batted in a game since his cheekbone was broken July 25 by a pitch to the face. "I think it's important that before he leaves, that he gets back on the horse and is feeling confident," said Mackanin, who didn't know yet which position Lopez would play. Coming up: Matt Belisle (8-9, 5.43) will start for the Reds against the Astros and Wandy Rodriguez (9-13, 4.66) on Thursday at 7:10 p.m. ET at Great American Ball Park.
Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.