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Hamilton isn't a lock to lead off

Price may move speedster around in Reds' lineup
MLB.com @m_sheldon

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- It's been a rough spring at the plate for Billy Hamilton, and manager Bryan Price still hasn't committed to using the Reds' center fielder in his usual leadoff spot in the lineup.

"Coming into camp, we're trying to define where the best place is for him to hit. It's probably multiple spots in the lineup, based on whether it's a left- or right-hander starter and who's in the lineup on any given day," Price said on Monday.

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GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- It's been a rough spring at the plate for Billy Hamilton, and manager Bryan Price still hasn't committed to using the Reds' center fielder in his usual leadoff spot in the lineup.

"Coming into camp, we're trying to define where the best place is for him to hit. It's probably multiple spots in the lineup, based on whether it's a left- or right-hander starter and who's in the lineup on any given day," Price said on Monday.

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If Hamilton isn't at the top of the order on a given day during the regular season, Price confirmed that the two leading contenders for the spot would be outfielder Jesse Winker and shortstop Jose Peraza.

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"I'd like to have more guys on base in front of the four, five, six [batters]," Price said. "I think there's going to be times when Billy gives us the best opportunity to set the table for the middle of the lineup. And there's going to be other times when there are others better suited to hit in advance of the middle of the order."

Hamilton is batting .121 (4-for-33) in his 14 Cactus League games. For many players, such as Joey Votto, spring numbers aren't a concern because of his track record of success.

While Hamilton has a track record that says he's much better than .121 hitter, he has often struggled to get on base over his four-year career and has a .298 on-base percentage in the big leagues.

This spring, Hamilton had several people work with him -- including Barry Larkin and Lou Piniella -- and Price believed he would figure it out.

"We've challenged him with a lot of theory. We're really trying to maximize his talents," Price said. "There has to be a period of marination of all the things he's trying to bring to his game."

Video: ARI@CIN: Dixon ropes an opposite-field solo home run

Dixon making decisions difficult
A non-roster player, infielder/outfielder Brandon Dixon has done a nice job of making the Reds' final decisions for the bench more challenging. Not only is Dixon batting .351 (13-for-37) in a team-leading 21 games this spring, he's tied for the team lead with four home runs while also having tallied 10 RBIs.

"Any non-roster player is looking to do whatever he can to get on that roster, any way he can," Dixon said. "I've gotten quite a few opportunities and a lot of at-bats. It's just preparing myself for the season, whether it's [Triple-A] Louisville or Cincinnati."

With only a couple of bench spots open, Dixon has emerged as a strong contender.

"He's does a lot of good things -- power component, positional flexibility and he runs well. He's not a station-to-station player," Price said. "He's a first-to-third, first-to-home guy. He's got pretty good instincts on the bases as well. The fact that he's driving balls to all fields, he's just not a pull, power guy.

"I was very impressed by him last spring. He's followed up with an even better spring. He's making things interesting down the stretch."

Dixon, 26, batted .264/.327/.457 with 16 homers and 64 RBIs last season at Louisville. His homer in the eighth inning of Sunday's 6-3 win against Arizona was hit the opposite way to right-center field. Trying to be less of a pull hitter was one offseason objective. Another was adjusting his swing to better prepare him for being a bench player with simpler being better.

"I used to be a big move guy, with a leg kick. This offseason, I definitely simplified things just to try and get to more consistent spots," Dixon said. "I feel like I've done a good job with it and I'm feeling good."

Video: CIN@SEA: Finnegan exits game with injury in 1st

Injury report
Left-handed pitcher Brandon Finnegan, who came out of his March 11 start with a forearm spasm, felt good after Sunday's side bullpen session and is scheduled to pitch two innings in a Minor League game on Tuesday.

"The game tomorrow is just a test flight, a controlled two-inning outing and then we'll look to bring him back on [Saturday]," Price said on Monday. "We'll limit him tomorrow to a couple of innings and maybe 30-35 pitches."

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.

Cincinnati Reds, Billy Hamilton