Indians tell Billy Hamilton he won’t make roster, seeking trade

Sam Greene
1 Comment

CLEVELAND — Outfielder Billy Hamilton won’t make Cleveland’s roster, and the Indians are trying to find him another team this spring.

Manager Terry Francona said the club told Hamilton that he wasn’t part of their plans. The Indians will try to trade the 30-year-old, who signed a minor league contract last month and has been at big league training camp.

“We just felt, out of respect to Billy, because of being the veteran he is and being the really good veteran that he is, we didn’t think it was right to ask him to get on a bus and back up guys if we knew he wasn’t gonna be on the team.” Francona said during a Zoom call from Arizona.

“He was a pro’s pro. He’s such a good kid and we’ll certainly attempt to help him land somewhere. That’s why we did it this quickly.”

Hamilton had his best seasons with Cincinnati from 2013-18. He stole at least 56 bases four straight seasons. He spent last season with the New York Mets and Chicago Cubs.

Hamilton had been competing for one of Cleveland’s two open starting outfield spots. Only left fielder Eddie Rosario is guaranteed an every-day job with Bradley Zimmer, Daniel Johnson, Jordan Luplow, Josh Naylor, Oscar Mercado and Amed Rosario vying for time in right and center.

Amed Rosario, acquired from the New York Mets in the trade for All-Star shortstop Francisco Lindor, is going to start getting more time in the outfield. Francona said Rosario will start drills next week in center field.

“We’re trying to not overly complicate this, so we’ll go one position at a time, see how he does. He went out and worked in the outfield yesterday,” Francona said. “He’s going to start tracking some balls. I told him, `You tell me when you’re comfortable to play. I’m not going to put you out there until then.’

“He seemed excited about it. He had told us at the beginning of camp, `I’ll do whatever you want me to do.”‘

Biden praises Braves’ ‘unstoppable, joyful run’ to 2021 win

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
2 Comments

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden said the Atlanta Braves will be “forever known as the upset kings of October” for their improbable 2021 World Series win, as he welcomed the team to the White House for a victory celebration.

Biden called the Braves’ drive an “unstoppable, joyful run.” The team got its White House visit in with just over a week left before the 2022 regular season wraps up and the Major League Baseball playoffs begin again. The Braves trail the New York Mets by 1.5 games in the National League East but have clinched a wildcard spot for the MLB playoffs that begin Oct. 7. Chief Executive Officer Terry McGuirk said he hoped they’d be back to the White House again soon.

In August 2021, the Braves were a mess, playing barely at .500. But then they started winning. And they kept it up, taking the World Series in six games over the Houston Astros.

Biden called their performance of “history’s greatest turnarounds.”

“This team has literally been part of American history for over 150 years,” said Biden. “But none of it came easy … people counting you out. Heck, I know something about being counted out.”

Players lined up on risers behind Biden, grinning and waving to the crowd, but the player most discussed was one who hasn’t been on the team in nearly 50 years and who died last year: Hall of Famer Hank Aaron.

Hammerin’ Hank was the home run king for 33 years, dethroning Babe Ruth with a shot to left field on April 8, 1974. He was one of the most famous players for Atlanta and in baseball history, a clear-eyed chronicler of the hardships thrown his way – from the poverty and segregation of his Alabama youth to the racist threats he faced during his pursuit of one of America’s most hallowed records. He died in January at 86.

“This is team is defined by the courage of Hank Aaron,” Biden said.

McGuirk said Aaron, who held front office positions with the team and was one of Major League Baseball’s few Black executives, was watching over them.

“He’d have been there every step of the way with us if he was here,” McGuirk added.

The president often honors major league and some college sports champions with a White House ceremony, typically a nonpartisan affair in which the commander in chief pays tribute to the champs’ prowess, poses for photos and comes away with a team jersey.

Those visits were highly charged in the previous administration. Many athletes took issue with President Donald Trump’s policies and rhetoric on policing, immigration and more. Trump, for his part, didn’t take kindly to criticism from athletes or their on-field expressions of political opinions.

Under Biden, the tradition appears to be back. He’s hosted the NBA champion Milwaukee Bucks and Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the White House. On Monday he joked about first lady Jill Biden’s Philadelphia allegiances.

“Like every Philly fan, she’s convinced she knows more about everything in sports than anybody else,” he said. He added that he couldn’t be too nice to the Atlanta team because it had just beaten the Phillies the previous night in extra innings.

Press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre was later questioned about the team’s name, particularly as other professional sports teams have moved away from names – like the Cleveland Indians, now the Guardians, and the Washington Redskins, now the Commanders – following years of complaints from Native American groups over the images and symbols.

She said it was important for the country to have the conversation. “And Native American and Indigenous voices – they should be at the center of this conversation,” she said.

Biden supported MLB’s decision to pull the 2021 All-Star Game from Atlanta to protest Georgia’s sweeping new voting law, which critics contend is too restrictive.