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Baker looking forward to working with Hamilton


GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- There is sure to be lots of attention placed by fans on top Reds prospect Billy Hamilton, who is in big league Spring Training for the first time. Hamilton, who was an early arrival, was a 2012 sensation as he stole a professional record 155 bases at Class A Bakersfield and Double-A Pensacola.

Manager Dusty Baker is looking forward to working with Hamilton, but doesn't have the excitement others have.

"I'm interested to get to know him as a person and know him as a player from seeing him first hand," Baker said on Thursday. "I look at things a little different than the fans. I look at what he needs to improve on or what he's doing good right now."

Hamilton, 22, switched from shortstop to center field during the offseason and is widely expected to be the Opening Day leadoff hitter in 2014. Some fans wouldn't mind seeing that timetable moved up, however.

"If you're playing winning baseball, there are things you have to do other than just stealing," Baker said. "Switch-hitting is new for him, playing a new position is new for him. There are things that you have to do and in order to do them, you have to play to get better at it. You've got an honors student, but he's a freshman, are you going to graduate him right away? I've seen speed before. We're all amazed by speed. You have to learn how to harness that speed."

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