Billy Hamilton dropped to eighth spot in Reds’ lineup

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Billy Hamilton hit leadoff in all 136 of his starts last season and he had again served as the Reds’ leadoff man in his first 33 starts this season. But that will change in Sunday’s series finale against the Giants.

Hamilton, who’s carrying a .212 batting average and .264 on-base percentage through his first 151 plate appearances this year, has been dumped to the eighth spot in the Reds’ batting order. It’ll be his first time hitting there in his young major league career.

“I just thought it made sense to take a look at getting some of our higher on-base guys at the top of the order,” Reds manager Bryan Price told Mark Sheldon of MLB.com. “Just try to get some guys on base for the middle of the order guys and take a little bit of the load off. There’s this whole thing we’re always saying with Billy, ‘You go, we go.’ It really shouldn’t be that way — when we’re going, it’s because we’re all going. Because we’re all doing what we need to be doing collectively well. I think it’d be really nice to have Billy doing some things down at the bottom, maybe helping set the table for the top of the order.”

Zack Cozart is at leadoff and Brayan Pena is batting second on Sunday afternoon in Cincinnati.

Royals fire manager Mike Matheny after 65-97 end to season

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Manager Mike Matheny and pitching coach Cal Eldred were fired by the Kansas Cty Royals on Wednesday night, shortly after the struggling franchise finished the season 65-97 with a listless 9-2 loss to the Cleveland Guardians.

The Royals had exercised their option on Matheny’s contract for 2023 during spring training, when the club hoped it was turning the corner from also-ran to contender again. But plagued by poor pitching, struggles from young position players and failed experiments with veterans, the Royals were largely out of playoff contention by the middle of summer.

The disappointing product led owner John Sherman last month to fire longtime front office executive Dayton Moore, the architect of back-to-back American League champions and the 2015 World Series title team. Moore was replaced by one of his longtime understudies, J.J. Picollo, who made the decision to fire Matheny hours after the season ended.

Matheny became the fifth big league manager to be fired this year.

Philadelphia’s Joe Girardi was replaced on June 3 by Rob Thomson, who engineered a miraculous turnaround to get the Phillies into the playoffs as a wild-card team. The Angels replaced Joe Maddon with Phil Nevin four days later, Toronto’s Charlie Montoyo was succeeded by John Schneider on July 13 and the Rangers’ Chris Woodward by Tony Beasley on Aug. 15.

In addition, Miami’s Don Mattingly said late last month that he will not return next season.