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Indians tell OF Hamilton he won't make roster, seeking trade

Cleveland Indians' Billy Hamilton gestures to the Texas Rangers' dugout before a spring training baseball game Tuesday, March 9, 2021, in Surprise, Ariz. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

By TOM WITHERS AP Sports Writer

CLEVELAND (AP) — 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 on Thursday 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.'”

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