Reds center fielder Billy Hamilton will undergo right shoulder surgery on Friday, C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports (Twitter links). Needless to say, he’ll miss the rest of the season, though his long-term outlook is of greater importance at this stage.
Hamilton is expected to be able to recover in time for a full spring, according to GM Walt Jocketty. “There’s no structural damage,” he said, “but we think [the surgery] will help and [Hamilton will] be 100% and ready to go before Spring Training.”
Hamilton has been dealing with a sprained capsule since mid-August, as MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon recently explained. He was activated from the DL recently, but the problem flared back up. There was apparently some consideration given to simply using Hamilton as a pinch runner over the final weeks of the season, but obviously both team and player decided it was preferable to go the surgical route now.
This season was not what the 25-year-old hoped for even before the shoulder problem arose. The noted speed demon was just productive enough at the plate last year to allow his baserunning and defense to carry his value.
But while Hamilton has improved with his legs this year — he was caught in just eight of 65 stolen base attempts after being nabbed 23 times in 2014 — his numbers at the plate plummeted. All told, he owns a .226/.274/.289 slash in 454 plate appearances on the season.
It appears that Hamilton has every hope of a normal spring, which is certainly good news. But any lost development opportunities could be problematic, as there’s plenty on the line for him next season. Hamilton will enter the 2016 campaign with 2.028 years of service on his clock, making it an arbitration platform year. And Cincinnati will be looking to assess whether he’s a long-term solution in center.