Jerry Hairston Jr. will play anywhere and everywhere for the team that gave him a chance when no one else would. That's essentially what the Naperville North graduate told Hal McCoy of the Dayton Daily News this week after agreeing to a one-year, $2 million contract, with $2 million more available in incentives.
Last season Hairston played six different positions in 80 games for the Reds and hit .326 with a .384 on-base percentage and 15 stolen bases. As McCoy points out:
The Reds were 25-19 when Hairston batted leadoff. His on-base average of .487 while batting leadoff was second best in the National League among leadoff batters with more than 150 plate appearances. Only L.A.'s Rafael Furcal was better.
Hairston expects to fill the No. 2 hole in the Cincinnati lineup, and could wind up shuttling between shortstop and the outfield. The short-term deal gives both sides flexibility, and Hairston the chance to prove that he's an everyday player who can last through a 162-game season.
"I just got really focused on just being healthy and once I got healthy, I felt like a completely different person," Hairston told the Sun last July in the Wrigley Field visiting clubhouse. "Like I tell everybody, the last couple years I felt like I was like 50 years old.
"Now I feel like I'm 25...I'm runnin' like I used to, runnin' like I should. I'm only 32 years old and I feel I got a good six-eight years left."