CINCINNATI -- The Cardinals spent last season trying to keep Reds leadoff hitter Shin-Soo Choo off the bases. Now, they have the task of stopping another leadoff man from running.
Choo followed a large contract to Texas over the winter, opening up room for speedy center fielder Billy Hamilton atop the Reds' lineup. Hamilton arrived in the Majors last year having swiped 395 bases in 502 Minor League games. He went on to appear in 13 games for the Reds -- six as a pinch-runner -- and stole 13 bases in 14 attempts, his first two coming with Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina behind the plate. He was 9-for-9 in his stolen-base attempts this spring.
"I'm ready," Molina said of his next showdown with Hamilton. He's still waiting, too, as Hamilton had no chance to showcase his speed in the season opener.
Adam Wainwright, who said he put a "big emphasis" on Hamilton during his pregame scouting work, struck the center fielder out four times in Monday's 1-0 win.
"I knew if we were going to have success with the Reds, we have to get him off the bases," Wainwright said. "He can really cause some havoc out there. To keep him off the bases [Monday], looking back, it was probably one of the keys to the game. In a 1-0 game, keeping him off first is a big deal."
The Cardinals' infielders were also prepped, aware that Hamilton will be unhesitant to try and bunt his way on base. St. Louis watched video of Hamilton's spring in preparation for facing him this week.
"It's nice to get a little more of a look at his swing and try to figure out a game plan," manager Mike Matheny said. "He's a good player, he's an exciting player. And I know the Reds are of the viewpoint that he's going to continue to get better. And when you mix that kind of speed with improving talent, that's somebody we have to pay a lot of attention to at the top of the order."
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.