The Kansas City Royals' Billy Hamilton on Feb. 18, 2019, at spring training in Surprise, Ariz. (John Sleezer/Kansas City Star/TNS)

By Sam McDowell The Kansas City Star (TNS)

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Billy Hamilton’s stint in Kansas City was always intended to be short-lived.

It’s even shorter now.

The Royals designated Hamilton for assignment Friday, two months before the conclusion of the one-year contract he signed last December.

The reasoning: They created room for outfielder Brett Phillips, who was to join the team Friday ahead of a three-game interleague series with the Mets.

Acquired in a trade that sent Mike Moustakas to the Brewers, Phillips has been tearing up Triple-A ball with Omaha lately, despite a rough start. He’s hitting .240 but has a .378 on-base percentage with 18 home runs and 13 triples for the season. He’s also successfully stolen 22 bases in 23 attempts. Since June 1, Phillips has 13 home runs with an OPS over 1.000 and an on-base percentage north of .400.

In 93 games with the Royals, Hamilton batted just .211 without a home run. The team targeted Hamilton, a well-regarded defensive outfielder, as a prime fit for not only spacious Kauffman Stadium but also a team trying to return to its roots of speed. But his inability to get on base prevented that from becoming much of a factor. He stole 18 bases.

Phillips initially joined the Royals after last year’s trade, but he hit just .188 and struck out 50 times in 112 at-bats.

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