Billy Hamilton is honing his bunting weapon

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Billy Hamilton hit .368 in 22 plate appearances in September last season, but some in the know say that Hamilton will struggle to hit in the Majors. In his first season against Triple-A competition last season, Hamilton hit .256 with a .308 on-base percentage and a .343 slugging percentage.

Hamilton’s signature has always been his ability to swipe bases. In the Minors, Hamilton stole 395 bases in 479 opportunities (82.5%). But if he’s not hitting enough to get on base, he won’t be stealing all that much. That’s why Hamilton is working on improving his bunting. Via Mark Sheldon for MLB.com:

On Wednesday vs. Dodgers left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu, Hamilton push-bunted a ball past the first-base side of the mound. Ryu had no time to cover the bag after the first baseman fielded it, and in an act of futility, the second baseman scrambled for the bag. Hamilton was easily safe.

“If I do my job, I feel like I can get safe every time,” Hamilton said. “It’s just the point of getting it down and putting it in place. I have to realize I have to use my speed and don’t have to rush out of there. The main thing is getting the bunt down first, a perfect bunt.”

Hamilton is taking over for the Reds in center field and will bat in the lead-off spot. If he can get on base at a .310 clip and swipe second and even third with frequency, he will create plenty of RBI opportunities for those behind him in the lineup — including Joey Votto.

Rays sign Carlos Gomez to a one-year deal

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The Tampa Bay Rays signed free agent outfielder Carlos Gomez to a one-year deal worth $4 million.

Gomez hit .255/.340/.462 with 17 homers in 105 games for the Rangers last year. He missed time due to various ailments, as he has frequently over the past several years, playing 118 games in 2016 and 115 games in 2015. He’s useful when healthy. He just has to find a way to stay healthy.

The Rays just traded away Steven Souza and designated Corey Dickerson for assignment, making room for Gomez. Dickerson was slated to make $5.95 million and, if he is not traded, the Rays will be on the hook for $1 million of that. Souza was making $3.55 million. Gomez will work in the outfield corner rotation with Denard Span and Mallex Smith, while Kevin Kiermaier will cover center.