With eye on future, Price rests Hamilton

With eye on future, Price rests Hamilton

CINCINNATI -- Reds center fielder Billy Hamilton was not in Thursday's starting lineup vs. the Dodgers. The decision was less about performance and more about thinking ahead. He was, however, used in late in the game as a pinch-hitter. He laid down a sacrifice bunt in the eighth inning of the Reds' 4-1 win and stayed in the game to play center field in the ninth.

"He didn't play every day when he was up in September. He did go to Puerto Rico [for winter ball]," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "That kind of wore him down, I think. But he does play center field. He's 160 pounds. He plays hard. He runs hard. He does everything at 100 percent, which great.

"But I want to make sure he's still strong and healthy going into the latter months of the season."

Hamilton entered Thursday batting .252 with a .290 on-base percentage, two home runs, 14 RBIs and 24 stolen bases.

Roger Bernadina started in Hamilton's place in center field, while left fielder Skip Schumaker batted leadoff. Bernadina came in 4-for-9 lifetime vs. Dodgers starter Zack Greinke.

"It's been a challenge to get some of our guys regular at-bats," Price said. "I'm trying to at least get some matchups for some of our bench guys to get in there and keep them somewhat sharp."

Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Mark My Word, and follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.