The Cincinnati Reds announced that center fielder Billy Hamilton exited Sunday’s game against the St. Louis Cardinals with a strained left oblique following a checked swing. It is uncertain when he will be ready to return to the lineup.

Continue for updates.

Latest on Hamilton’s Timeline for Return

Monday, Sept. 5

Reds manager Bryan Price told reporters Hamilton’s injury “may not be a season-ender” and that the center fielder will be re-evaluated in five to seven days.

Latest on Hamilton’s Testing 

Monday, Sept. 5

Mark Sheldon of reported that Hamilton will undergo an ultrasound to determine the severity of the injury.

Hamilton Out vs. Mets

Monday, Sept. 5

Hamilton will not be in Monday’s lineup against the New York Mets, per the Cincinnati Enquirer‘s C. Trent Rosecrans:

Holt Replaces Hamilton in Center

Sunday, Sept. 4

The injury came as Hamilton was up to bat in the third inning. He immediately reached for his left side following a checked swing. After the team’s trainer attended to Hamilton, Price brought in Tyler Holt to finish the at-bat and play in center.

Hamilton Struggling to Stay Healthy

Durability has been a concern for Hamilton the past couple of years. He played in 114 games in 2015 and has already suffered a knee injury, thumb injury and concussion this season.

When healthy, Hamilton has demonstrated marked improvement at the plate in 2016 for the Reds. He slashed .226/.274/.289 with four home runs last season but has three homers, 17 RBI and a .261/.321/.344 slash line in 118 games this year.

Despite the better offensive stats, the Reds will miss him most on the basepaths if he is forced to sit out for an extensive period. Hamilton stole 56 bases in 2014 and 57 bases in 2015, and he leads the league with 58 stolen bases in 2016.

He is arguably the fastest player in baseball and a threat to steal and turn a walk or single into the equivalent of a triple every time he gets on base. Hamilton also forces opposing pitchers to focus more on him than hitters, which allows sluggers such as Joey Votto to inflict additional damage off mistakes.

The Reds will likely turn to Holt until Hamilton is ready to return. He has played a career-high 91 games this year, although he is far from a proven commodity after hitting a combined .097 for the Reds and Cleveland Indians in 2015.

While it is a lesser club with Hamilton out, this is a lost season for Cincinnati. There is no need to rush him back from this latest ailment, as it is far more important that he is healthy and ready to go at the start of the 2017 campaign.

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