Josh Hamilton took a major step in his comeback Monday, playing in an extended spring training game at the Rangers’ complex in Arizona for his first game action since October.
Hamilton went 0-for-4 with one strikeout and three ground outs, according to the Associated Press, and afterward Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said Hamilton “seems to be 100 percent” healthy and “you can’t tell there was an issue” with his surgically repaired shoulder.
For now the plan is for Hamilton to join the Triple-A team soon, likely for a couple weeks, at which point the Rangers will assess his status and potentially add him to the active roster before the end of the month. In plenty of time for a series against the Angels that starts July 3.
It seems impossible to know what to expect from Hamilton in terms of on-field production at this point, but every quote from a Rangers official certainly paints the team as very optimistic they’ll be getting a quality player for pennies on the dollar after the Angels dumped his contract.
Jon Morosi of MLB.com reports that the Reds “have emerged as the frontrunner” to sign free agent outfielder Nicholas Castellanos. Morosi says the Reds and Castellanos “have made progress over the past several days.”
The Reds were going to have a lot of outfielders already when they hit Goodyear, Arizona in a couple of weeks, with newcomer Shogo Akiyama, Jesse Winkler, Nick Senzel, Aristides Aquino, Travis Jankowski, Scott Schebler, and Rule 5 draftee Mark Payton. Senzel was an infielder before last year, of course, so he could move back to the dirt, perhaps. And, of course, the Reds could trade from their outfield surplus if, indeed, they end up with an outfield surplus.
Without question, however, Castellanos would be the big dog, at least offensively, in that setup. He had a breakout year at the plate in 2019, hitting .289/.337/.525 overall (OPS+ 121), but slugging at a blistering .321/.356/.646 pace (OPS+ 151) after being traded from the Tigers to the Cubs. In Chicago — rescued from cavernous Comerica Park — his big doubles power turned into big homer power. If he were to sign to play half his season in hitter-friendly Great American Ballpark one can only imagine the damage he’d do.