GARY | The RailCats made a trade Wednesday that took a veteran out of the clubhouse in an effort to give him more at-bats this season.
The team traded Jeremy Hamilton to Lincoln in exchange for a player to be named. Hamilton had played in 33 games and tied the team-best in doubles with 10.
He played every game at first base and was traded to add versatility, manager Greg Tagert said.
"It’s been more difficult than I imagined to juggle the lineup … especially to try to get both catchers into the lineup and with Ryan Brockett coming back, we knew a move was imminent," Tagert said. "We still need to shore up the depth of the middle infield to make sure we’re cleared up on those bases.
"Anytime you have a player like Jeremy Hamilton, and it was unusual for us, because Jeremy is hands down the best defensive first baseman we’ve ever had here. In the past, we’ve always used someone who has been a middle infielder. Jeremy was a different type of first baseman for us. It was almost hypocritical on my part, because as someone who puts so much emphasis on defense, his value was tremendous and saved us in many ways, but the attributes of our ballclub, the versatility and benefits of having players who can do multiple things, the one thing I’ve learned over 10 years, at least for the RailCats that roster flexibility and versatility is tremendous."
Hamilton, who was among the oldest players in the clubhouse at 27 and has played independent baseball since 2010, started 28 games at first base and played in 33 games. He hit .259 with 14 RBIs and 12 runs.
With the open roster spot, the RailCats picked up their 12th rookie in athletic first baseman Adam Humes. The team saw Humes last year during the undrafted senior tryout in June, and kept in touch with the youngster.
Humes has been in the start-up Independent Baseball League in Michigan this season. He hit .282 in 14 games for the Adrian Pioneers.
"Extremely surprised," Humes said before Wednesday's game. "Not expecting it at all."
In his first game for the RailCats, Humes had two hits, including an RBI single in the fourth inning of Wednesday's game against Sioux Falls.
Humes' spot in the lineup isn't guaranteed, Tagert said.
"He’s an athletic first baseman. He’s someone who can play first, third, left," Tagert said. "We don’t feel like we’re done with the roster right now in terms of the makeup. Another right handed bat, and who knows in one or two days. He obviously jumped at the opportunity and thought it was a good situation to showcase himself in something other than a workout environment."
With Derek Smith hitting .476 heading into Wednesday's game and another two hits early against the Canaries, the space also frees up a chance for Smith to take more at-bats.
"(Smith is) off to quite a start," Tagert said. "He impressed us in spring training and every game he’s started he’s had an impact. I look at it and I have to think, ‘it can’t just be luck, this guy can hit.’"