"I don't mind surprises," Hamilton said with a smile after the 8-3 Cactus League victory.
It was a feel-good moment for Hamilton, not only because it was his first taste of the big leagues, but because his father, Tom Hamilton, was watching from a booth at the field. The elder Hamilton, who has called Cleveland games for 25 seasons, did not take part in the broadcast on this afternoon.
"He just wanted to be a dad," said Jim Rosenhaus, Hamilton's partner in the booth.
The decision to slot the 24-year-old Hamilton in the lineup's ninth spot was made after some initial miscommunication. Nick Swisher was originally tabbed as Cleveland's DH, but the Reds wanted to have the pitchers bat in the game. After Swisher was given the day off, Cincinnati told Cleveland it could use the DH after all.
Francona felt it was a nice opportunity to give Nick Hamilton the chance to play in front of his dad.
"We were like, you know what? Hammy's sitting up in the booth," Francona said. "I think there's always maybe a little time in Spring Training to have a nice, special moment. I'm sure both of them thought it was really cool. I know our players got a kick out of it.
"We just thought it would be a nice touch to the day."
Hamilton -- a product of Avon Lake High School, located just west of Cleveland, and a part of Kent State's College World Series team in 2012 -- went 0-for-4 in the batter's box, but the statistical line was not important. What mattered to Hamilton, who was selected in the 35th round of the '12 First-Year Player Draft, was the experience.
"It was really just a lot of fun," Hamilton said. "I'm just grateful for the opportunity to be able to get out there and get that first taste of playing in the big leagues. It was just a lot of fun and something I can learn from and build on from here.
"Eventually, looking back, I'm sure this is definitely something that I'm going to cherish."