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Yost discusses Hamilton's lineup spot, defense

MLB.com @FlannyMLB

LAS VEGAS -- One of the first things one might wonder about the Royals' signing of Billy Hamilton on Tuesday is where he could hit in the lineup.

The Royals will likely slot the Major League's 2018 stolen-base leader, Whit Merrifield, in the leadoff spot. The speedy Adalberto Mondesi settled into the No. 2 spot late last season, giving the Royals a disruptive tandem at the top of the order.

LAS VEGAS -- One of the first things one might wonder about the Royals' signing of Billy Hamilton on Tuesday is where he could hit in the lineup.

The Royals will likely slot the Major League's 2018 stolen-base leader, Whit Merrifield, in the leadoff spot. The speedy Adalberto Mondesi settled into the No. 2 spot late last season, giving the Royals a disruptive tandem at the top of the order.

Hamilton, who averaged nearly 58 steals a season for four years before falling to 34 last year, hit mostly in the ninth spot for the Reds last season. Will Royals manager Ned Yost try Hamilton in the No. 9 spot, giving the Royals a trifecta of speed at 9-1-2?

Yost, of course, playfully bristled when asked.

"Where are we? We're in Las Vegas. I'm at the poker table. My cards aren't dealt yet," Yost said. "Let me see where we are. Here you go again. You want answers. It's December 11th. Can we at least wait until January 30th and get to FanFest? Let's wait and see."

Yost, though, then settled down to discuss potential speed throughout his batting order.

'I like the fact -- when I sit back and look at it, [Chris Owings] has speed, he's going to be able to do things," Yost said. "Hunter Dozier has a really deceiving type of speed. I think Hunter will be able to steal 15 to 20 bases. And so we're going to have a lot of athleticism, a lot of speed.

"But in terms of looking at the lineup, you've got Whit, who is a huge on-base percentage guy, led baseball in hits, in stolen bases. Mondi coming into his own last year. [Alex Gordon] really flourished in the three hole. Jorge Soler coming back, and he was really starting to take off before he broke his foot. And we're going to have a lot of options, and we'll sit down when we get to Spring Training and experiment with the lineup and see what is best. Not necessarily what works best, because it's hard to tell in Spring Training, but what feels best, and go from there."

After minutes of discussing Hamilton's offense, Yost then turned to discuss his new outfielder's most impressive skill: defense.

"I've talked to a lot of Cincinnati people about him, and they absolutely loved him," Yost said. "But we've been spoiled for years with Lorenzo Cain in center field, a tremendous defender in a big ballpark. And having Billy roaming that ground from gap to gap out there, we've got Alex Gordon and plenty of great candidates in right field with [Brian Goodwin], with Soler, with [Jorge Bonifacio], with Brett Phillips. We'll have a lot of opportunities to kind of mix and match and see what fits and what's beneficial for us as a team.

"The main thing is we have that speed now. We just didn't have it last year, really. We had Whit, but Mondi was in the Minor Leagues (in the first half). We just didn't have that speed when we had Cain and [Jarrod Dyson] and [Terrance Gore] and those type of little weapons that we had off our bench. So we definitely have them now, and that's exactly what we wanted to get back to."

Jeffrey Flanagan has covered the Royals since 1991, and for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter @FlannyMLB.

Kansas City Royals, Billy Hamilton