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Price not worried by Hamilton's early struggles

Manager expects outfielder's bat to start clicking; DeSclafani struggles in second spring start; Mahle has rough outing
MLB.com @m_sheldon

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Spring Training statistics for veterans are often not highly scrutinized, but it's hard not to notice that Reds center fielder Billy Hamilton has yet to get going. In fact, Hamilton has yet to get a hit and is 0-for-12 with three walks in six games.

Manager Bryan Price pointed out that several on the club aren't hitting well as Cincinnati entered Sunday with a .218 average. But Price also expects Hamilton -- who is trying to re-establish himself as the Reds' leadoff hitter -- to start clicking this spring.

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GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Spring Training statistics for veterans are often not highly scrutinized, but it's hard not to notice that Reds center fielder Billy Hamilton has yet to get going. In fact, Hamilton has yet to get a hit and is 0-for-12 with three walks in six games.

Manager Bryan Price pointed out that several on the club aren't hitting well as Cincinnati entered Sunday with a .218 average. But Price also expects Hamilton -- who is trying to re-establish himself as the Reds' leadoff hitter -- to start clicking this spring.

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"Very few are off to what you'd call a robust start to Spring Training offensively. The other thing is [Hamilton] is getting a lot of input," Price said. "I think at some point in time he's going to have to go out there and do what comes naturally at game time. He's been working really hard on his bunting. He's getting a lot of work in on his hitting. Now it's a matter of getting out there and playing."

Hamilton, who batted .247 with a .299 on-base percentage and 85 runs in his 139 games last season, has been working with coaches all spring. He's also been speaking with an array of others -- including team advisor and hitting guru Lou Piniella and teammate Scooter Gennett.

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"It's always magnified with Billy because we think he can certainly be a more robust offensive player. But that's what happens," Price said. "There's a feeling that there is some untapped potential there. There's a lot of input and a lot of ideas of what to do. I think he needs to settle in and just stick with a simplistic plan for what's most effective. He's been up here now, this is the beginning of his fifth year, so I think he should be figuring these things out now and getting more comfortable with his own approach."

Hamilton had a scheduled day off on Sunday during the Reds' 10-3 loss to the Royals.

DeSclafani has rough start

Reds pitcher Anthony DeSclafani did not have a good start vs. the Royals on Sunday, as he pitched two innings with four runs (three earned), five hits, one walk and one strikeout. He was pulled before his expected third inning of work.

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Kansas City's first five batters reached safely on four hits and sent nine to the plate in the top of the first. The game started with a Whit Merrifield triple.

"I mean it when I say it -- I'm really happy that I'm healthy," DeSclafani said. "Obviously today didn't go the way I wanted it to. I'm walking out of here and my arm is feeling great. I felt like I was throwing a lot of strikes. It probably could have been more quality strikes. They put the barrel on the ball and I didn't make good pitches."

DeSclafani missed all of the 2017 season with a sprained ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow. He pitched two scoreless innings in his first Cactus League start on Tuesday vs. the Brewers.

"I'm not going to be frustrated or mad," DeSclafani said. "I'm going to continue to do the same thing that I've done. I'm having good 'pens. My arm is feeling great. It was just a day. I will come back and I just have to make better pitches, that's all."

Camp battle: Mahle also gives up four runs

Rotation candidate Tyler Mahle made his third appearance from the bullpen and gave up his first runs of spring. Mahle allowed four runs (three earned) and three hits over 2 2/3 innings with one walk and two strikeouts. That included a three-run sixth inning.

"I felt good. I just missed some spots on my fastball," Mahle said. "Usually, that's my go-to. My breaking balls were good. I threw a lot of changeups that were good on righties and lefties."

Video: Top Prospects: Tyler Mahle, RHP, Reds

Mahle is vying against pitchers like Sal Romano, Robert Stephenson and Michael Lorenzen for a spot in the starting five.

"I'm not happy with how today went but as a whole with it being Spring Training, I feel good with everything," Mahle said.

Transaction

Lefty pitcher Jairo Labourt, who was claimed off of waivers by the Reds on Friday, didn't stay long. Labourt was claimed off of waivers by the A's on Sunday.

Up next

Shohei Ohtani will be visiting with the Angels, when they play the Reds at 3:05 p.m. ET Monday at Goodyear Ballpark. Joey Votto and Gennett will be in the Cincinnati lineup while Romano makes his third start.

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