Hamilton can start swinging again by Friday …

joshAngels outfielder Josh Hamilton was back at the ballpark for the first time on Monday, three days after undergoing surgery on his left thumb that’s expected to keep him out 6-8 weeks.

Hamilton will have his stitches removed on Friday, while also getting the hard cast around his left thumb replaced with a removable splint. He can’t do any rehab with his finger until May 2, but he can start running, lifting, swinging off a tee with his bottom hand — the most important hand for a hitter — and “doing all the things I need to do to keep in shape” when he gets the stitches removed on Friday.

Hamilton, who got back to about 240 pounds over the offseason, isn’t concerned about losing muscle during his rehab, saying: “It’s only a week, and then I’ll get my stitches out and I’ll be able to start doing leg workouts and body workouts. You can do a lot of stuff without gripping a barbell, so I don’t see that being a problem.”

He won’t travel with the team in its upcoming three-city trip through Detroit, Washington and New York, and the Angels are planning to have Hamilton go to Arizona to do some baseball activities while they’re in Toronto from May 9-11.

“I’m not going to put a time frame on it,” Hamilton said of his recovery. “I’m just going to do what I need to do as far as listening to the doctor as far as keeping it stable for the first two or three weeks, and then after that, once they tell me it’s healed, I’ll start doing rehab and being aggressive with it.”

Hamilton suffered a complete tear of the ulnar collateral ligament and also a torn capsule when he banged his left thumb into first base during a headfirst slide in the seventh inning at Safeco Field on Wednesday. It was a major loss for an Angels lineup that could be without its cleanup hitter and main power supply from the left slide until June. And it’s a major blow to Hamilton, who was named co-American League Player of the Week to start the season and was batting .444/.545/.741 through his first 33 plate appearances.

“I felt like my old self – my 2010, ’11, ’12 self,” Hamilton said in a press conference prior to the series opener against the A’s from Angel Stadium. “That’s why it’s my bummer, but there’s no reason why I can’t come back and still feel like that.”

Hamilton said he “reassessed” his headfirst slide as soon as he saw the replay, and in hindsight understands shouldn’t have done it. Asked if he’ll avoid sliding headfirst into first base moving forward, Hamilton, who has done it several times throughout his career, said: “I ain’t gonna make any promises.”

“What I’ve learned is no matter what you do, if something goes bad, you’re going to catch criticism,” Hamilton said. “When it goes good, no big deal. It just helps you guys write about a bunch of other stuff, so, you’re welcome.”

Some pregame notes …

  • Sean Burnett is with the team at home and was planning to play catch on Monday, after being shut down after his simulated game in Arizona on April 5. Burnett said he had some swelling around his left elbow that has since subsided. Nobody really knew the cause of it, but the lefty reliever plans to get off a mound again in a couple of days and doesn’t believe he’ll have to undergo surgery again.
  • David Freese (.458 OPS) started the season batting ahead of Howie Kendrick (.621), but over Freese’s last two starts — he sat on Sunday — Angels manager Mike Scioscia has flipped his two right-handed hitters. Asked what’s wrong with Freese, Scioscia said: “I think he’s trying to get comfortable in the box. There are some things I think he wants to get comfortable with in his stance to find some things and let him get to pitches easier. He’s working hard with Dave Hansen and Paul Sorrento on that. I think he just needs at-bats right now. But this guy’s going to hit. David’s going to hit.”
  • Kole Calhoun batted ninth on Saturday and fifth on Sunday, but he was right back in the leadoff spot against a right-hander on Monday, after his first multi-hit game of the season. My sense is Scioscia will hit Calhoun there against righties and Collin Cowgill at leadoff against lefties, at least for now.
  • On Dane De La Rosa, back in Triple-A after his velocity was surprisingly low in his 2014 debut on Saturday, Scioscia said he’s “getting evaluated on some medical things and having some tests.” “He feels good, he says he feels healthy, so I think you just want to explore why some of his velo is down,” Scioscia added. “Once he’s ready, I know he’s going to get right back on the horse. And Dane De La Rosa is going to be a big part of our bullpen. It’s just going to take a little more time.”

Athletics (8-4)

Craig Gentry, CF
Jed Lowrie, SS
Josh Donaldson, 3B
Yoenis Cespedes, LF
Derek Norris, C
Alberto Callaspo, DH
Nick Punto, 2B
Josh Reddick, RF
Daric Barton, 1B

SP: RHP Jesse Chavez (0-0, 1.38 ERA)

Angels (6-6)

Calhoun, RF
Mike Trout, CF
Albert Pujols, 1B
Raul Ibanez, DH
Kendrick, 2B
Freese, 3B
J.B. Shuck, LF
Hank Conger, C
Erick Aybar, SS

SP: LHP Hector Santiago (0-2, 7.71 ERA)

Alden

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