PITTSBURGH -- It's never too hot in the hot tub for Billy Hamilton. Not only will it make him sweat and make him wet, it's helped keep the dynamic Reds rookie center fielder on the field.
"I hear from the older guys all the time about me being in the training room hot tub and stuff, but it's something you've got to do. It keeps you loose," Hamilton said.
In a season where it seems like every player wearing a Reds uniform has been forced to the disabled list, the 23-year-old Hamilton has managed to stay healthy despite a daily pounding he has put on his body.
When the calendar turns from August to September, the grind of a baseball season nearing its end usually has players feeling the wear and tear more than ever.
"As of right now, I feel good and my body feels good," Hamilton said. "I still feel fresh. I keep my legs loose.
"I take care of my body so well during the season as far as the hot tub and cold tub so that by this time of the year, it feels like the start of the season. I knew it would be a long season, and I run so much. I also dive and slide, and my body takes a good beating. Taking care of my body is one thing I do really well."
Tuesday will mark the one-year anniversary of Hamilton's first big league callup to the Reds. Unlike last year, when he was limited to a few starts and mostly pinch-running duties, Hamilton is expected to remain a daily fixture at the top of manager Bryan Price's lineup.
Hamilton is batting .267/.302/.382 with six home runs in 131 games. During Sunday's 3-2 win over the Pirates, he tied a 105-year-old club record by stealing his 54th base of the season.
In June, Hamilton was the National League Rookie of the Month when he batted .327/.348/.500 with three homers and 18 RBIs. While his numbers have cooled in the second half -- like much of the Reds' lineup -- Price believes it's special the way that Hamilton has kept himself ready to play all year.
"A full baseball season will challenge anybody, especially someone doing something for the first time," Price said. "Billy is in a full six-month season of playing every day. This isn't coming in for September and being a pinch-runner and getting three or four starts. This is an everyday player for a six-month season. I'm very pleased with how he's handled it physically.
"I'm even more impressed with how he's handed it mentally. Of course, everyone's curious about this kid. He's got a lot of things coming at him for the first time at this pace and intensity. From at least what I've witnessed, he's handled it very well."
Hamilton's 54 steals are second in the Majors behind the 58 claimed by Dee Gordon of the Dodgers. The last player to steal 60 in a season was Michael Bourn of the Indians, with 61 in 2011. In 2009 for the Red Sox, Jacoby Ellsbury became the last player in the league to swipe 70 bags.
Only nine Reds have ever stolen 50 or more bases during a season, including Hamilton. Bob Bescher, who is now tied with Hamilton, set the rookie record in 1909. Bescher's 81 steals in 1911 still remains safe as the overall franchise record.
Deion Sanders stole 56 bases for the Reds in 1997. The last Reds player to swipe more than 60 bases was Eric Davis in 1986, with 80 steals.
"I'm just looking to keep the season going, learn more about the game and hopefully get some more wins. It's not about records or numbers -- it's you want to win," said Hamilton, who stole a professional-baseball-record 155 bases in 2012 with Class A Bakersfield and Double-A Pensacola.
Rookie of the Year?
Hamilton leads NL rookies in runs (70), hits (133) steals, RBIs, doubles (25), multihit games (36) and total bases (190). He is third among rookies in batting average.
Hamilton leads all NL center fielders with a .997 fielding percentage while committing just one error this season. His eight outfield assists rank second among center fielders behind the nine of Ender Inciarte of the D-backs.
Sabermetrically, Hamilton's ultimate zone rating (UZR) of 15.5 is second among NL center fielders behind Juan Lagares (20.6) of the Mets, according to Fangraphs.com. His eight defensive runs saved above average (DRS) ranks second behind Lagares' 30.