Billy Hamilton makes leaping catch day after four-hit game originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago
What can't Billy Hamilton do?
Viewed by plenty as a one-dimensional player when the White Sox added him during spring training, the famed speedster is trying to change his narrative and contribute more than just base-stealing to a team chasing a championship.
He's been successful at that the last two days, first banging out four hits, including a pair of extra-base knocks, in Wednesday night's White Sox winner, then adding this highlight-reel grab in center field during the fourth inning of Thursday afternoon's series finale against the Minnesota Twins.
Hamilton has never been known for his offensive ability, and indeed, when the White Sox signed him in the spring, he was viewed as a situational threat. But talking with White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson, Hamilton has reframed the way he thinks about himself, trying to focus more on being a hitter first and a runner second.
Certainly he's receiving the opportunity to put that thinking into action. The White Sox are down a pair of their starting outfielders, with Eloy Jiménez and Luis Robert in recovery mode, and have yet to get fourth outfielder Adam Engel back from a springtime hamstring strain. That's pressed Hamilton into duty on a far more regular basis than even he imagined.
"Whenever I get my chance to get in there, I want to do whatever I can to be the best at what I’m doing at this point," Hamilton said Wednesday night. "For me to get the chance to start here every now and then, it’s something that I want to do more. I’ve got to do whatever I can to when I get the chance to go out there to perform."
White Sox manager Tony La Russa commented in the spring that he believed Hamilton could provide more than just a swift pair of legs. Hamilton hasn't had an overwhelming amount of success at the plate, of course, but he showed he has the potential to contribute with Wednesday's big offensive effort.
By flashing the glove, too — and doing it right in front of where Dewayne Wise saved Mark Buehrle's perfect game — he contributed in another way. And while his four hits were indeed a meaningful contribution in a 13-8 victory, Hamilton's catch might have been even more important.
Lance Lynn was having trouble putting away the Twins after getting the first two outs of the fourth inning. He gave up a double and a walk, and his shutout bid ended when he made a low throw to first base. A wild pitch on Strike 3 followed to load the bases, and had Hamilton not reeled in the deep fly ball to left, the White Sox lead would have easily vanished.
Hamilton's role would obviously be different if the White Sox outfield was at full strength. But at least this week, he's offered an example of what he could do as a fill-in while the South Siders still try to meet their sky-high goals in 2021.
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