Golfer Bubba Watson challenged Billy Hamilton to a race at Reds Spring Training
The only thing pro golfer and two-time Masters champion Bubba Watson wanted on Tuesday was a piece of Reds speedster Billy Hamilton, mano-a-mano in a foot race. Instead, Watson had to settle for an autographed bat.
Watson, a minority owner of the Reds' Double-A affiliate in Pensacola, Fla., stopped by Reds camp, received a tour and met players and coaches -- including Hamilton, who had 56 steals last season in the Majors and holds the professional record of 155 steals in 2012.
"He chickened out today. He's got to stretch," Watson said. "They're making him do some physical stuff. He gave me a bat and stuff. He played with the Blue Wahoos and he's known for being kind of fast. I said, 'I start at second base and he starts at home,' and in the clubhouse, he said he could still beat me. I said, 'There's no chance.' But they're not letting him run right now. They want him to stay healthy, I guess."
Hamilton apparently didn't have a need to see Watson's speed.
"It's a little too early for him," Hamilton said. "I want him to meet everybody before I got a chance to make him mad and not want to meet anybody anymore. Because once I beat somebody, they don't like me anymore."
According to MLB.com's Statcast, Hamilton can get down to first base in a blistering 3.44 seconds. A trip all the way around the bases at that speed would put him at about 13.76 seconds -- a time he was clocked at during an inside-the-park homer in the Minors. Which, even if only going second to home, still feels pretty tough to beat. Maybe Bubba can take his hovercraft?
As Watson walked around the Reds' player development complex, he carried a bat that was autographed by Hamilton.
"He did put 'to the fastest man he knows.' That proves I can outrun him right there," Watson said. "Obviously, I can outrun him. He's scared."
The world's No. 2-ranked golfer, Watson bought a share of the Pensacola club during the winter and likes baseball as an escape. As a lefty in school, he played first base and pitched, and Don Mattingly was his favorite player growing up.
"A ball and a stick, I'm pretty good with that," Watson said. "When I got to high school, my dad said I had to choose a sport. For me, I chose golf. We don't have to work out as hard. We don't have to run as much. We just walk for a living."