Cards ready to contend with Hamilton's speed -

Cards ready to contend with Hamilton's speed

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By John Bailey By John Bailey

( —  While the Cardinals significantly improved their speed for 2014, they open the season against perhaps the fastest man in baseball. 

The Reds’ Billy Hamilton is considered by many to be the sports biggest game-changer on the base paths, and has already logged 13 steals in his brief time in the majors. 

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His very first steal came against Yadier Molina, who is considered one of if not the very best arms behind the plate. 

“Speed is something teams don’t take lightly. You see rushed plays, you see defensives trying to contend with speed,” said manager Mike Matheny of the Reds’ speedster. “He’s obviously a threat on the bases and a threat to use his speed whether it’s laying down a bunt or any time he gets a chance to change the game.”

To contend with that kind of speed, the Cardinals aim to keep him off the bases. Matt Carpenter, coming off an All-Star season at second base, is back to his natural position at third. Matheny said Carpenter is prepared for the possibility of Hamilton laying down the bunt, but would prefer they stop him even earlier. 

“We’re aware, just like everybody in the league is that a bunt could come at any time,” he said. “One thing we keep preaching whether he’s on base or he’s at the plate, the priority is to make a pitch. Fortunately we have a catcher that does not change his game calling sequence according to the running game.”

If Hamilton does get on, Molina will look to even the score. The young Red has two stolen bases off the veteran signal caller.

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