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Baseball Notebook : Hamilton will start now

Josh Hamilton (33) has been the center of attention in Cincinnati this season.
 (Associated Press / The Spokesman-Review)
Josh Hamilton (33) has been the center of attention in Cincinnati this season. (Associated Press / The Spokesman-Review)

Center fielder Ryan Freel didn’t wait for somebody to tell him to start taking infield practice. He can see what the Cincinnati Reds need most.

Mostly, they need to have Josh Hamilton in the lineup.

A day after Freel agreed to a two-year, $7 million contract extension, he was on the move. Freel was at third base on Tuesday, a temporary position switch to accommodate a player who needs a permanent place in the lineup.

Josh Hamilton has been that good.

“I know that for the Reds’ sake, for our team, you’ve got to have that guy’s bat in the lineup,” Freel said. “I’m not going to hit 30 home runs. I know there’s people still questioning (Hamilton), saying, ‘Let’s see how this pans out.’ This kid’s ready.”

Since the Reds acquired him through a Rule 5 draft trade in December, the 25-year-old outfielder has been their most intriguing player. He has overcome years of drug and alcohol addiction, put his life in order and started showing what he can do.

His pinch-hit, two-run homer on Monday night gave him three homers and seven RBIs in only 18 at-bats, numbers that make a good case for more playing time. Now, Hamilton is going to get it.

“Shortstop Alex Gonzalez returned to the Reds and was reinstated off the bereavement list. The Reds designated infielder Enrique Cruz for assignment.

Soriano sidelined

Cubs outfielder Alfonso Soriano expects to miss about a week after straining his left hamstring while diving for a ball against the San Diego Padres.

The Cubs considered putting the five-time All-Star on the 15-day disabled list, even though an MRI revealed no major structural damage.

Instead, they optioned pitcher Angel Guzman to Triple-A Iowa before the game against San Diego. Chicago called up top prospect Felix Pie, who started in center field in his major league debut.

Clearing the bases

The Chicago White Sox placed outfielder Scott Podsednik on the 15-day DL with a pulled groin muscle and recalled reliever Boone Logan from Triple-A Charlotte. … New York Mets catcher Paul Lo Duca left the game against Philadelphia after he was hit on the back of his right hand by a foul ball. … The Los Angeles Dodgers placed right-hander Jason Schmidt on the 15-day DL with shoulder inflammation. The move was retroactive to Sunday.