CINCINNATI -- In each of Billy Hamilton's first four full Major League seasons, September has proven to be the most perilous month. The Reds' center fielder exited Wednesday's 7-1 win over the Brewers at Great American Ball Park in the third inning because of a fractured left thumb.
"He'll be in a splint for 10 days, and then we'll reassess," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "This is not necessarily a season-ending injury. It's not something that will sit in a cast for 4-6 weeks to heal. It will be about 10 days, and we'll be able to get the splint off and reassess."
Leading off the bottom of the first inning, Hamilton attempted to bunt a 2-1 pitch from Brewers starter Matt Garza, and he appeared to have hurt his thumb as he fouled it off. He was able to complete the plate appearance, and he flied out to left field.
Phillip Ervin pinch-hit for Hamilton in the bottom of the third, and he replaced him in center field. Hamilton was taken for a MRI exam, which confirmed the fracture.
Hamilton missed the final 27 games of last season after he suffered a strained left oblique. He didn't play the final week in 2015, because he needed shoulder surgery, and he missed the final four games of '14 with a concussion from hitting the wall. Although he has stolen more than 50 bases in each of the past four seasons, each late-year injury has cost him the National League stolen-bases crown.
"Our goal was a healthy April-September and into October. He got to the sixth [of September]," Price said. "We would certainly like to see him back on the field in a couple of weeks and help us -- be it as a pinch-runner or defensive replacement. Or if he can swing the bat and be able to get back in the lineup and be productive at the end."
This season, Hamilton leads the Majors with 58 steals, while Miami's Dee Gordon is in second with 49. Overall, Hamilton is batting .249/.300/.334 with four home runs and 37 RBIs. But he had been surging lately, batting .300 (6-for-20) this month, and he saw a streak of 29 plate appearances without a strikeout end on Wednesday.
Hamilton also has 12 outfield assists, one behind teammate and Major League leader Adam Duvall.
Mark Sheldon has covered the Reds for MLB.com since 2006, and previously covered the Twins from 2001-05. Follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.