Hamilton's goal: 'Full and healthy season'

Speedy outfielder hoping to avoid DL after several stints over past two years

Hamilton's goal: 'Full and healthy season'

DAYTON, Ohio -- Billy Hamilton was happy to return to the scene of the crime -- or, rather, the scene of the crimes.

The Reds wrapped up their spring slate on Saturday with a 5-1 win over their Futures Team at Fifth Third Stadium. It was with the Dayton Dragons where Hamilton made his mark on baseball, stealing 103 bases in 135 games in 2011.

"I have great memories here," Hamilton said. "That year, we broke the record with 815 [straight sellouts]. I was so happy to be a part of it. It's amazing to come back here and see all the fans who supported you when you were playing.

"It's fun to come back to Dayton. [Adam] Duvall had his night last night in Louisville. I told him, 'This is my city.' I was just messing around with him. But it's awesome to come back to Dayton."

Hamilton, 26, had a relatively healthy spring. In 2016, he was mostly in the rehab mode in the spring after surgery on his right shoulder. He thinks that had something to do with his slow start at the plate. Hamilton hit .236 in the first half and .293 in the second half.

"As a player, you want to start the season strong," Hamilton said. "This spring, No. 1, I didn't have to rehab the whole spring. That's going to help."

Hamilton has battled injuries the past two seasons. He played 114 games in 2015 and 119 in '16. He was on the disabled list four times over those two seasons.

"The main thing for me is to stay healthy," Hamilton said. "I talked to [manager Bryan] Price about it. He said, 'Your goal this year is to be healthy.' I want to have a full and healthy season."

A year after stealing 103 in Dayton, Hamilton set the all-time record for steals in a pro season with 155 in 2012. Hamilton has stolen 56, 57 and 58 bases in each of his three full years in the Majors, but he doesn't have base-stealing records on his radar.

"I don't think it's impossible," Hamilton said. "But 155 is lot. In the big leagues, it would be tough. My goal is get on base. The stolen bases will come. As of right now, I don't have a goal for stolen bases. I want to succeed and do whatever I can to help the team out."

Numbers game

President of baseball operations Dick Williams expects the Reds to be better this year than last, but he wouldn't put a number on it. And Price won't be judged by wins alone.

"What we talked about is the influence Bryan and his staff can have on the young developing players," Williams said. "Our measurement tool is really development strides to be taken by that young group. How that's we're going to measure. In wins and losses, I couldn't tell you. We're not numerically oriented as much as we are seeing guys like Cody Reed, Amir Garrett, Robert Stephenson, Sal Romano take that next step and develop.

"If we're doing that, the wins will follow. But most importantly, we want see how Bryan and his staff do with the players developing at the big league level. We certainly saw some momentum in that direction in the second half last year."

Roster madness

The Reds won't set their roster until Sunday. Catcher Devin Mesoraco and right-hander Anthony DeSclafani have to be put on the disabled list, among other things.

Price is happy with his mix of players.

"I love this group," Price said. "We've got guys who love being in the Reds' organization, who are really committed to see this thing turn, the tide change for our ballclub. This is a group we've been talking about, particularly with the young pitching.

"This is kind of what we've been waiting for. I'm excited. I'll be excited every time the game starts with who we have on the mound, our position players and our athletic bench."

John Fay is a contributor to MLB.com and covered the Reds on Saturday. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.