GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Shohei Ohtani, meet Billy Hamilton.As the Reds hosted the Angels for the first time this spring in a 7-5 loss on Monday, Ohtani endured what many a Major Leaguer has experienced before -- getting robbed of a hit by a spectacular play made by the speedy Hamilton.In
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Shohei Ohtani, meet Billy Hamilton.
As the Reds hosted the Angels for the first time this spring in a 7-5 loss on Monday, Ohtani endured what many a Major Leaguer has experienced before -- getting robbed of a hit by a spectacular play made by the speedy Hamilton.
In the top of the first inning with one out and facing pitcher Sal Romano as the Angels' designated hitter, Ohtani hit a drive to deep left-center field. Hamilton made a long run to near the warning track before stretching out for a diving catch.
"I want to take a hit away from anybody. I don't care who it is, to be honest with you," Hamilton said. "It was one of those plays I feel like I've got to make, and should make. It just happened to be him, one of the guys who will be a star in this game. I want to take away as many hits as I possibly can. They don't want to give me hits and I don't want anybody else to get a hit."
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After completing the catch, Hamilton rolled a few times as he hit the ground. He also narrowly avoided a collision with left fielder Ben Revere in the process.
Hamilton revealed that he didn't get the best read of the ball off of the bat of the Japanese sensation.
"It's kind of tough here with these skies and the sun," Hamilton said. "I didn't realize Ben was over there. Usually I can just get over there and not call for anything, but he was right there on me and I had to call it and make a quick decision because he was right up on me and he gets to the ball really, really well."
Romano acknowledged the great play from the mound with a wave of appreciation towards Hamilton, one of the game's best defensive center fielders and a National League Gold Glove finalist each of the last four seasons.
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"It was Billy being Billy. There's really not much to say about that. It's just Billy doing what he always does," Romano said. "I'm sure Ohtani probably wanted that to fall, but we've got Billy Hamilton out there."
Ohtani, the rare two-way player and the No. 1 prospect in all of baseball according to MLB Pipeline, could only head back to the visitor's dugout without what would have likely been an extra-base hit had it not been for Hamilton.
"I didn't think the ball was going to fall and it didn't," Ohtani said via a translator. "I was glad I was able to get the bat on the ball."
As Ohtani's first big league season is being followed closely by Japanese media, several reporters sought Hamilton and Romano for questions about the top free agent prize from the past offseason. The Reds were among the many clubs that unsuccessfully tried to woo him to sign.
"The guy is getting an opportunity to play here in the U.S. I just wish him the best," Romano said. "Hopefully he adjusts to here. I think he'll have a pretty good career."
Hamilton was scratched from Tuesday's starting lineup with an injured left index finger 90 minutes before first pitch. It is not immediately known if the catch was the injury's cause.
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.