Results tagged ‘ Jerry DiPoto ’

Pujols on leak of meetings: ‘It’s really embarrasing’ …

The prevailing sentiment in the Angels’ clubhouse on Tuesday afternoon, less than 24 hours after a FoxSports.com report detailed friction between the front office and coaching staff, wasn’t so much anger at what took place.

It was disappointment in the fact that it was made public.

“Whoever leaked that story, it’s really embarrassing,” Angels first baseman Albert Pujols said. “We’re supposed to be a family here.”

The report stated that “emotions simmered” amid a series of meetings revolving around the front office’s belief that the coaching staff was doing an inadequate job of relaying scouting information to players. In those meetings, occurring this past weekend, at least one coach “responded heatedly” to general manager Jerry Dipoto and Pujols issued “a pointed rebuttal” to the fourth-year GM.

A source said the report’s portrayal of the meetings was “verbatim,” though what it all means moving forward is still very much open for interpretation.

“I’m not going to comment on what happened or didn’t happen,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said, “but I can only tell you it will not be a distraction to these guys.”

Angels setup man Joe Smith believes it was no different from what goes on throughout the course of any season with any team.

“You have a bunch of men filled with testosterone in one little room, and we’re with each other every day and we’re all trying to do something,” Smith said. “Stuff happens, and I think it’s better when it’s kept in-house. Because it does happen; it happens every year in every clubhouse. You keep your mouth shut, you keep it in here, and you move on, with everybody performing in the right direction.”

But the report could also be yet another sign that Dipoto and Scioscia, baseball’s longest-tenured manager, aren’t on the same page. And it’s even more prevalent when considering that Scioscia can opt out of his 10-year contract at the end of this season, rather than staying through 2018.

Dipoto, who had his 2016 club option picked up earlier this season, didn’t respond to several requests seeking comment. The two bumped heads through Dipoto’s first two years, 2012-13, but Scioscia said he and Dipoto are “a good team,” adding that “the only real issue” was when they let hitting coach Mickey Hatcher go in May 2012.

We’ve moved past that,” Scioscia added. “We’ve moved way past that.”

Dipoto, according to the report, believes the coaches rely too heavily on “feel” and the coaches “seemingly do not trust the information they are given,” making them “not willing or able to translate it for the players.”

None of the roles in the Angels’ coaching staff or in-game scouting department will change, Scioscia said. A source added that the players will simply be receiving scouting information directly to their iPads from the front office, rather than have a coach filter through it first. The players can then choose to do what they want with it.

“The only difference is getting the scouting reports to players and then bringing it back to coaches,” Scioscia said. “It’s just a slight adjustment.”

The FoxSports.com report said Pujols “challenged” Dipoto on Sunday, by “saying that the coaches are working as hard to prepare the players as they did last season, but that the roster is not as strong as it was a year ago.”

Asked about having words with Dipoto, Pujols said: “That’s none of your business. Whatever happens in the clubhouse stays in the clubhouse.”

The report comes at a time when the Angels are still trying to find their footing. They won a Major League-best 98 games last year, but they’ve had a .500 record on 18 separate occasions this season. And despite winning four of their previous five games, they entered Tuesday four games back of the first-place Astros in the American League West.

On the mound, the Angels sport the fifth-lowest ERA in the AL. On defense, a department where the Angels began incorporating a lot more defensive shifting at the start of 2014, they rank third in efficiency, according to Baseball Prospectus. Their offense, however, has scored the fourth-fewest runs per game in the AL.

“It’s been a tough year so far,” Pujols said, “but we’re only four games out with still [11] games before [the All-Star] break.”

Angels starter C.J. Wilson considered the heated discussions “a positive thing.”

“That’s the way I took it,” he said. “Like, ‘Hey, we’re going to work harder as a team overall, have more communication overall.’ I didn’t see anything wrong with it. The whole goal is not about ego; it’s all about winning.”

Alden

Angels finish Draft with lots of bats, as expected …

The Angels entered the 2015 Draft in search of bats, then selected a position player with 25 of their 40 picks over the last three days, a drastic, necessary change in philosophy after back-to-back pitcher-heavy Draft.

The Angels drafted a pitcher with 10 of their first 11 picks in 2013 and each of their first five in 2014. In 2015, eight of their first nine picks and 12 of their first 14 were position players. They finished Day 3 by selecting a college senior with 13 of their final 28 selections.

Now, Angels scouting director Ric Wilson said, “We’re getting very close to a balanced foundation.”

The farm system was in need of a major replenishment around the time Jerry Dipoto took over as general manager after the 2011 season, and the Angels wanted to stabilize it first with pitching, because it’s the more valuable commodity and it generally takes a little longer to develop.

This was the year they could finally address the other half.

“We laid down a strong foundation of pitching over the last couple years, and these last three days we hit it hard on the positions,” Dipoto said. “I really feel strongly about the group we put together.”

The Angels mostly played it safe, as usual, drafting eight teenagers and 22 college seniors.

But they like some of the high-upside potential they acquired from the high-school ranks, too. Like second-round pick Jahmai Jones, a center fielder with a football background and great athleticism. Or 11th-round pick Jimmy Barnes, a power hitter whom Dipoto called “a cross between Jermaine Dye and Chris Carter.” Or 12th-round pick Dalton Blumenfield, a catcher who’s 6-foot-3 and 210 pounds. Or 17th-round pick Samuel Pastrone, a right-hander who’s up to 97 mph with his fastball.

The Angels turned heads by drafting the son of Jamie Moyer (Pepperdine University second baseman Hutton Moyer), the brother of Mike Trout’s longtime girlfriend (Gannon University right-hander Aaron Cox) and the son of Dipoto himself (Newport High right-hander Jonah Dipoto).

They were also criticized for using their first-round pick on Taylor Ward, the Fresno State catcher they had ranked a lot higher than most others.

“Doing some of the stuff we did early opened us up to do some of the things we did from [rounds] 11 to 15,” Wilson said. “There was a strategy to it. People sort of look at us cross-eyed when we do things, but there was definitely a plan to it. In time, it’ll all show itself.”

Alden

Angels draft Jonah Dipoto, son of Jerry …

Jerry Dipoto’s seat in the Angels’ Draft room was situated right next to Kathy Mair, who was responsible for phoning each of the team’s selection to Major League Baseball. Every time a pick was ready, a tag with the amateur player’s name would sit right next to Dipoto, ready for Mair to read out with the next pick.

When it came time for Mair to call in the Angels’ 38th-round selection, though, the tag was missing.

“They hid it from my view so I couldn’t know what they were doing, then they called the name,” Dipoto said. “Then the whole room erupted. It was pretty cool.”

The Angels had just drafted Jonah Dipoto, a right-handed pitcher out of nearby Newport Harbor High School and, yes, the teenage son of the Angels’ general manager.

Over the last year and a half, Jonah played for multiple scout teams, including the Angels’, so the organization’s scouts were very familiar with him. They liked how he was progressing. And even though they knew he wouldn’t sign – Jonah is committed to UC San Diego, where he’ll be a two-way player – they wanted to select him anyway, as a reward for how far he’s come and some added encouragement in his development.

Angels scouting director Ric Wilson asked Dipoto if he’d be OK with it a week ago, and the Angels’ GM rejected the idea because he didn’t want to take an opportunity away from someone else. During Wednesday’s lunch break, Wilson insisted, saying that area scout Rob Wilfong really liked Jonah and that selecting him wouldn’t interfere with anything else.

So, Dipoto relented.

A few minutes later, he heard his son get selected with the 1,155th overall selection.

“I will admit,” Dipoto said, “it was a great moment for me, a great moment for Jonah, and I hope we have the opportunity to do it again in another three years.”

After Dipoto exchanged hugs and handshakes with the room, Wilson asked the logical question: “Who’s calling Jonah?”

“Well I’m not calling him,” Dipoto said.

Wilfong made the call, just like he would’ve for any Southern California amateur, and Jonah let it go to voicemail. He was busy taking batting practice.

“He worked his tail off all spring long and he has for the last couple years, and I didn’t want to rob him of the opportunity to hear his name called on Draft day because I felt weird about it,” Dipoto said. “He earned his chance, and like a lot of the kids he played with over the summer – got drafted today at some point and will not sign; they’ll go off to college – he’s just one of the guys in that regard. He just happens to have been picked by the team where his dad is the GM.”

Alden

The Angels’ uncertain, costly future …

dipotoThe Draft starts today, and after going heavy-handed on pitching the last two years, the Angels are expected to target position players this time around. They — like any other team — want to set themselves up so that every time there’s a need on the Major League club, there’s a player in their farm system ready to take over. It’s too risky, not to mention expensive, to rely on the free-agent market to fill holes. Look no further than that brutal offseason heading into 2013, which saw the Angels sign Josh Hamilton, Joe Blanton, Tommy Hanson, Ryan Madson and Sean Burnett. Ouch.

The Cardinals are the gold standard when it comes to organizational depth, as evidenced by a Major League-leading plus-70 run-differential without Adam Wanwright or Matt Adams.

The Angels? Well, they’re working on it.

Their farm system was in need of a major replenishment right around the time Jerry Dipoto took over as general manager after the 2011 season, but major free-agent signings stripped the Angels of early-round picks and new CBA regulations limited how much teams can spend on amateur talent. It’s been a slow process. But over time, the Angels have at least done a good job of building some respectable starting-pitching depth. Some notables …

Triple-A: Andrew Heaney, Nick Tropeano
Double-A: Nate Smith, Kyle McGowin
Class A Advanced: Sean Newcomb, Chris Ellis, Victor Alcantara
Class A: Jeremy Rhoades, Jake Jewell
Lower levels: Joe Gatto, Hunter Green

That brings us to the upcoming offseason, and why that starting-pitching depth could be so important. The Angels — losers of five straight games — could have up to five holes in their lineup once this season ends: catcher, second base, third base, left field, designated hitter. In the majority of those spots — perhaps all of them, if you’re being really cynical — the Angels don’t have players in their organization ready to come up and take over. And their big financial flexibility won’t come after the 2016 season, when C.J. Wilson, Jered Weaver and Erick Aybar, among others, come off the books.

Dipoto, with a contract that carries a lingering club option for 2016, knows he’ll eventually have to part ways with some of the precious starting-pitching depth he’s worked so hard to compile. He may have to trade some of it within these next two months, with his club in desperate need of some offense. And he’s almost certain to do so over the winter, given all their upcoming needs.

Here’s a snapshot …

CATCHER

Current option: Chris Iannetta, in the final season of a three-year, $15.55 million extension
In-house replacement(s): Carlos Perez, Jett Bandy
Free-agent options: Iannetta, Alex Avila, John Jaso, Dioner Navarro, Jeff Mathis (!), Matt Wieters
Probable outcome: The rest of this season could play a big part in deciding how the Angels handle this position. They need to find out if Perez, basically a throw-in in the deal that sent Hank Conger to the Astros for Tropeano, is capable of being a semi-regular. Bandy has made some pretty big strides in the last year and is solid defensively, and that free-agent list is pretty compelling. But I’d guess that if the Angels splurge on a free agent, it’s an outfielder, not a catcher.

THIRD BASE

Current option: David Freese, making $6.425 million in his final arbitration year
In-house replacement(s): Kyle Kubitza
Free-agent options: Freese, Aramis Ramirez, Juan Uribe, Casey McGehee, Alberto Callaspo (!)
Probable outcome: The hope – the initial plan – is that Kubitza is ready to be the everyday third baseman in 2016. The likely scenario is that Kubitza is paired with a right-handed-hitting veteran who doesn’t mind sharing the job and can help Kubitza make the transition to the big leagues. I think it’s unlikely that they make a run at resigning Freese, especially since he’ll probably make good money given the lack of talent in the free-agent pool at third base.

SECOND BASE

Current option: Johnny Giavotella, controllable through 2019
In-house replacement(s): Giavotella, Josh Rutledge, Grant Green, Taylor Featherston, Alex Yarbrough
Free-agent options: Howie Kendrick (!), Ben Zobrist, Daniel Murphy
Probable outcome: Giavotella has been a revelation of sorts and is out of options. None of the other in-house options are all that appealing, as Spring Training might have shown, but the free-agent market isn’t deep here, either. The Angels don’t really do reunions, but Kendrick was huge for their lineup these last few years and he loves playing in Southern California. This is a position where they may ultimately have to get creative again.

LEFT FIELD

Current option: Matt Joyce, making $4.75 million in his final arbitration year
In-house replacement(s): Kirk Nieuwenhuis, Collin Cowgill, Efren Navarro, Alfredo Marte
Free-agent options: Joyce, Yoenis Cespedes, Jason Heyward, Torii Hunter (!), David Murphy, Justin Upton, Chris Young, Shane Victorino
Probable outcome: As you can see, this is a major, major problem. Outfield is by far the Angels’ biggest organizationally need and they’ll most certainly have to get somebody from the outside. That may happen before the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline, though. Dipoto has been looking for a left-handed-hitting left fielder for quite a while, and for obvious reasons, he’d like to get someone who’s controllable beyond this season. Upton would be a very appealing option, though.

DESIGNATED HITTER

Current option: C.J. Cron, controllable through 2020
In-house replacement(s): Cron, Marc Krauss
Free-agent options: Chris Davis, Mike Napoli (!), Delmon Young
Probable outcome: This situation is strikingly similar to left field. For the last two years, Angels manager Mike Scioscia has been scrounging for that ninth bat, going from Raul Ibanez to Cron to Navarro to Krauss to Green to Cron again. Most teams have this problem, though. Perhaps the Angels remain patient with Cron, but I see them getting two bats before August.

Alden

X-rays negative on Pujols’ left wrist …

X-rays were negative on Albert Pujols’ left wrist, which was hit by a Drew Hutchison fastball that forced him to leave the game.

“He’s OK,” Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto said in a text message late Wednesday night. “Day-to-day with a bruised hand.”

Pujols was noticeably in a lot of pain after getting plunked in the top of the fourth, but he stayed in the game, ran the bases and played the next half-inning on defense. In the top of the fifth, though, Marc Krauss pinch-hit for him – then drove in the game-winning run with a two-run double two innings later.

Pujols left Rogers Centre early to undergo further examination.

“It didn’t sound good,” Angels center fielder Mike Trout said after an eventual 4-3 win. “I was on first base and at first I thought it hit the knob. But after the replay, I heard everybody saying it hit the wrist. I just hope everything’s all right. He’s a big guy in our lineup.”

Pujols entered Wednesday’s game batting .232 with seven homers and 15 RBIs, but was nonetheless a crucial piece to an offense that had been limited to three runs or less in 22 of the previous 39 games.

The 35-year-old first baseman fractured his left wrist while with the Cardinals in June 2011, banging it against a runner while trying to field a one-hop throw up the first-base line. The injury forced him to miss two weeks, far less than what was initially expected.

“I don’t know if there’s anything residual from when he fractured it in St. Louis,” said Angels manager Mike Scioscia, who wasn’t aware of the severity of Pujols’ latest injury immediately after the game.

“We’re naturally concerned. Just the area it was and some swelling in there. We hope it’s just a bruise and we’ll see how it lines up.”

Alden

Angels, Street agree on extension …

The allure of free agency never really tugged at Huston Street, even though he was less than six months away from hitting the open market as one of the game’s steadiest, most successful closers over the last decade.

“The point of free agency,” Street said, “is to end up where you want to be.”

And Street never wanted to be anywhere else.

He proved it Wednesday afternoon, after finalizing a two-year, $18 million extension that will keep him pitching the ninth inning for the Angels at least through the 2017 season. The deal will pay Street $8 million in 2016 and $9 million in 2017, and it includes a $10 million club option for the 2018 season, with a $1 million buyout.

Street will still make the $7 million he’s owed this season – on the last of a three-year, $21 million extension he signed with the Padres in July 2012 – and will make a total of $34 million in his four full seasons with the Angels if his option is picked up.

It falls a little short of the extension Street eyed at the start of Spring Training, at four years and somewhere between $36 million and $46 million – but it was enough.

“You can’t let your ego get involved,” Street said from the podium at Angel Stadium. “You have to make decisions based on reality and what you really want. I put a lot of value on a lot of other things. First and foremost is happiness of family. Second, my loyalty to winning. I told my teammates in there, ‘If I didn’t think you guys were worth a hill of beans, I wouldn’t have signed this contract.’”

Talks between Street and Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto began in November and never really stopped.

“There was always steady progress, throughout the whole time,” Street said.

“We spent many, many days and hours talking about this,” Dipoto said, “dating back to being in the middle of my vacation walking around in the beaches of Hawaii talking to Huston on a cell phone.”

It all turned early in Spring Training, when Dipoto and Street finally met face-to-face.

Street suggested Sushi Roku, a swanky, high-priced Japanese restaurant in West Scottsdale, and Dipoto obliged. They shared a bottle of wine, ran through an inordinate amount of sushi and spent the better part of four hours talking – about the Angels, about a potential extension, about the game, about life.

The bill was $600, and Dipoto insisted on paying.

“I came back into the office the next day and threw the receipt on the table,” Dipoto said. “It was pure fascination.”

And it was ultimately worth it.

Street has been as steady as they come throughout his 11-year career, posting a 2.83 ERA and a 1.03 WHIP, saving 286 games – tied with Rod Beck for 29th on the all-time list – and cracking two All-Star teams. Over the last five years, his 91.9-percent conversion rate leads the Majors.

“The thing that appeals to me about Huston is you have a three-pitch closer who understands how to carve the strike zone and isn’t ultra-reliant on any one thing,” Dipoto said. “He isn’t ultra-reliant on velocity, he isn’t ultra-reliant on one pitch being any more dominant than the other, he isn’t ultra-reliant on facing righties or lefties. He’s been very consistent in what he does, and he really brings a sense of calm to you.”

The Angels acquired Street from the Padres in a six-player deal last July, parting with four intriguing prospects – Taylor Lindsey, Elliot Morris, Jose Rondon, R.J. Alvarez – because they felt Street could change the makeup of their entire roster.

Then they watched it happen.

Street’s presence moved the reliable Joe Smith to the eighth inning and Kevin Jepsen to the seventh, giving the Angels a lethal back end of the bullpen for the first time in a long time. Jepsen is gone, but Smith is signed through the 2016 season, locking down the final six outs of a game.

“As a manager, your IQ is tied to your bullpen,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. “A guy like Huston has a history of making his manager look smart.”

Street began contract negotiations as a self-represented player, then rehired his former agent, Alan Hendricks, to tackle the bulk of the negotiations when the regular season began, so Street could focus on his job on the field.

About a week ago, Street and his wife – six months pregnant with the couple’s third boy – decided to accept the dollars and years the Angels had been offering. The couple has grown fond of the house they rent in Sunset Beach, and as a closer, Street believes it’s necessary to be on a team that is committed to winning long term.

Free agency can wait.

“You want to be where you want to be,” Street said. “In free agency, the only thing you’re really going for is money, and you have to follow where the money is. That’s just not a position I want to be in. Winning is the thing that drove my position, first and foremost, from a professional standpoint. From a personal standpoint, I’m staring at the ocean when I wake up in the morning, with my wife and my kids. I’m very, very lucky to be where I am.”

Alden

Angels offiically send Hamilton back to Rangers …

Josh Hamilton‘s tumultuous stint in Southern California is over.

On Monday afternoon, the Angels and Rangers completed a trade that sent Hamilton back to Arlington and gave his most recent employers some salary relief. The deal was first reported on Friday, but the financial complexities that came with it — the Rangers sent money to the Angels and Hamilton agreed to give up some of his earnings — created a lag.

In the trade, a source said the Rangers will pay the Angels $2 million to $3 million in each of the remaining three years of Hamilton’s contract, which owed him $90.2 million through the 2017 season, including the signing bonus that was spread out over the course of the deal. Hamilton will reportedly sacrifice $6 million of his own, made up for by the fact Texas has no state income tax.

The release said the Angels received “a player to be named later or cash considerations,” but Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto said that has yet to be determined.

“The best interest in the Angels’ organization,” Dipoto added, “was to move on.”

The Angels next play the Rangers on July 3-5, in Arlington.

“If I could put my finger on why Josh had a tough time here, we may have been able to help him solve those issues,” Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto said on a conference call. “And I’m sure if he could put a finger on why it was such a struggle for him here, I’m sure he would’ve been able to contribute more than he did. But at the end of the day, this decision is about our 25-man roster, our organization, the health of this group as we move forward. We’re going to part ways with Josh Hamilton, let him rejoin the Texas Rangers, and we’re going to focus on Angels baseball as we move forward.”

Hamilton — the No. 1 overall Draft pick out of high school in 1999, before drug and alcohol addiction kept him out of baseball for three years — tapped into his potential with the Rangers, who initially acquired him from the Reds in December 2007.

From 2008-12 in Texas, Hamilton started five straight All-Star Games, played in back-to-back World Series and won the American League’s Most Valuable Player Award. He batted .305/.363/.549 in that five-year span, averaging 28 homers and 101 RBIs per season. But his production slipped considerably after a signing a five-year, $125 million contract with the Angels in December 2012.

During his introductory press conference at Globe Life Park, Hamilton said if he had to do it over again, “I probably wouldn’t have gone anywhere; I probably would’ve stayed here.”

“When it was made aware to me that the Angels wanted to move me, my first choice was the Rangers,” Hamilton said. “I’ve had a lot of good memories here.”

The 33-year-old outfielder batted .255/.316/.426 over the last two years, averaging 16 homers and 62 RBIs per season. He went 0-for-13 in the 2014 AL Division Series, generating boos from Angels fans.

Hamilton has been rehabbing from Feb. 4 surgery to his right shoulder in Houston all year, away from the team. His relationship with the Angels’ front office became contentious after he had a drug relapse late in the offseason.

An arbitrator ruled on April 3 that Hamilton did not violate the terms of his treatment program, mainly because he self-reported the relapse to Major League Baseball before a failed test; the Angels were openly upset by the decision. President John Carpino said the ruling “defies logic” and general manager Jerry Dipoto expressed the club’s “disappointment” in Hamilton’s actions with a statement.

The team did not issue Hamilton a locker at its Spring Training facility or at Angel Stadium, and promptly pulled all of his merchandise and likeness from the ballpark. Prior to the home opener on April 10, Angels owner Arte Moreno declined to say Hamilton would play for his team again and added that he hasn’t spoken to Hamilton since the end of the 2014 season.

Asked why, Moreno said, “Probably disappointment.”

Asked his reaction for those comments on Monday, Hamilton said, “I have no clue what he’s talking about.”

“Going into this season, I hadn’t been the player that they wanted me to be,” Hamilton continued. “I know I hadn’t been. But I worked my butt off to be that guy, this year, going into the season for the Angels. They just didn’t want that to happen for some reason. It doesn’t hurt my feelings, it doesn’t make me mad or anything like that. But I prepared. He knew what the deal was when he signed me. Hands down. He knew what he was getting, he knew what the risks were, he knew all those things. Under the [Joint Drug Agreement], it is what it is.”

Later in the press conference, Hamilton had asked if he’d still be with the Angels if they had been more accepting of his relapse.

“I would be,” he said. “I would’ve been in Spring Training, I would’ve rehabbed in Spring Training, and I would’ve been back [on the field] probably a month ago.”

Rangers general manager Jon Daniels expects Hamilton to be back on the field by the middle or end of May. Hamilton has been hitting and taking fly balls, but said he needs to get used to running around with spikes for an extended period of time.

He also said he has gone back to his support group from before 2012, which means, among other things, hiring Shayne Kelley back as his accountability partner. Hamilton is now getting tested five times a week, up from three.

Dipoto was asked on the conference call if this is a move that can come back to haunt the Angels.

“Why would it come back to haunt us?” Dipoto asked, then was told he was trading Hamilton to a division rival and he may have some good years ahead of him.

“Again,” Dipoto said, “we’re comfortable with the decision here.”

Alden

Angels preparing for Josh Hamilton’s next step …

Josh Hamilton was recently cleared for baseball activities and the Angels are putting together a plan that would involve him working out in their Arizona-based extended spring program “in the not-too-distant future,” general manager Jerry Dipoto said.

The team is still sorting through details and has yet to communicate them with Hamilton, who has been rehabbing from shoulder surgery in Houston since early February. An announcement is expected by the end of the week.

“Josh is now to the point where we’re beginning the process of preparing to return him to the field, and that’s going to begin at some point in the not-too-distant future in Tempe,” Dipoto said in a phone conversation on Tuesday morning.

“We don’t have a specific date for that, and we haven’t talked through the detail with Josh at this point. We’re still very much in the planning zone. Like any other player, he’s going to begin an on-field rehab process, and that will begin sooner rather than later. But we still don’t have any defined dates.”

Hamilton could work out there for a couple of weeks, then take part in a rehab assignment at one of their affiliates for up to 20 days – that’s the maximum amount of time allowed for position players on the disabled list – and perhaps be ready to return to the Majors around June.

The Angels still have to determine where Hamilton is in terms of his overall preparedness to play, particularly what kind of running exercises he’s been doing. They know he’s been hitting a lot, taking 200-plus swings a day since March, and teammates who recently saw him raved about his physical condition.

“He’s all of 250 pounds,” said Angels third baseman David Freese, who joined Collin Cowgill and Kole Calhoun for lunch with Hamilton on Thursday, while the team was in Houston. “But I think there’s a lot of things going on between him and the Angels that nobody knows about. That’s between them, and it’s really going on behind closed doors.”

Every option is still at play for Hamilton, who’s owed $83 million through the 2017 season and has a full no-trade clause. The Angels could look to trade him, could release him – which means they assume his entire remaining salary – or could eventually fold him back into the team.

Angels owner Arte Moreno said on April 10 that Hamilton’s contract contains language that gives the team recourse in the event of a drug- or alcohol-related relapse, a point the Major League Baseball Players Association quickly refuted. Moreno could try to act on those provisions, which would undoubtedly lead to an arbitration hearing between the MLBPA and the Commissioner’s Office, but has yet to decide on that, a source said.

The Angels didn’t issue Hamilton a locker at Tempe Diablo Stadium or Angel Stadium, where any merchandise or images depicting the five-time All-Star have been taken down. Asked if Hamilton will return to the team at some point, Moreno said, “I will not say that.”

If the Angels’ offense continues to struggle – they ranked 21st in runs and 26th in OPS after Monday’s 6-3 loss to the A’s – perhaps there will be more willingness to bring Hamilton back.

For now, all they can do is take the next step in his rehabilitation from Feb. 4 surgery to his right AC joint.

“We are prepared to begin the rehabilitation process on the field sooner rather than later,” said Dipoto, who wouldn’t comment further. “We don’t have a specific date that we’ve coordinated yet, but we’re getting to that.”

Alden

Scioscia reaches out to Hamilton, still ‘no clarity’ …

Angels manager Mike Scioscia touched base with Josh Hamilton when the team arrived in Houston for a weekend series, but said there’s still “no clarity that he’s getting the help he needs.”

“That’s a major concern,” Scioscia told MLBNetwork Radio on Friday morning, roughly nine hours before the series opener against the Astros from Minute Maid Park.

“Hopefully the frustration will start to evaporate as Josh gets through his first physical rehab of getting his shoulder where he needs to be,” Scioscia added. “He had surgery about eight weeks ago, and it seems like he’s turned the corner and it feels pretty good. And then we have to see when he’s able to get back out on the field and play baseball. There’s still some things that are open-ended and natural frustration that comes with uncertainty. That’s kind of what we’re dealing with.”

Hamilton has been in Houston, staying with a friend who acts as a part-time accountability partner, since undergoing surgery in his right A.C. joint on Feb. 4. The 33-year-old outfielder hasn’t been around the team all year – he wasn’t even given a locker at Tempe Diablo Stadium or Angel Stadium – and isn’t expected to make an appearance at Minute Maid Park this weekend.

On April 3, an arbitrator ruled that Hamilton did not violate the terms of his treatment program and would not be suspended for a self-reported drug relapse that occurred late in the offseason. The ruling noticeably angered the Angels, with president John Carpino saying it “defies logic” and general manager Jerry Dipoto expressing “disappointment” in Hamilton’s actions.

Angels owner Arte Moreno indicated prior to last Friday’s home opener that he’ll seek action against Hamilton, who has provisions in his contract that may give the team recourse in the event of drug or alcohol use. Asked if Hamilton will play another game for the Angels, Moreno said, “I will not say that.”

“It’s a unique situation,” Scioscia said. “First and foremost, we want to make sure Josh is getting the help and support he needs. It’s important to Josh getting back to where he needs to be and getting on the field and playing baseball.”

Scioscia, who will address the matter further from Minute Maid Park on Friday afternoon, did not specify what kind of help Hamilton is currently receiving and whether or not the two met face-to-face.

“He’s still doing his rehab, and we’ll see when he’s ready to get into full baseball activities,” Scioscia said. “Nothing much has changed.”

Alden

Moreno: Angels have recourse for Hamilton relapse …

Angels owner Arte Moreno said prior to Friday’s home opener that Josh Hamilton has language in his contract that gives the team an avenue for recourse if he drinks alcohol or uses drugs. Moreno didn’t go into specifics as to what that recourse would entail, but he did hint that the team is pursuing action against their high-priced outfielder, who had a drug-related relapse late in the offseason and has been rehabbing shoulder surgery in Houston ever since.

Seven days ago, an arbitrator ruled that Hamilton did not violate the terms of his treatment program, leaving Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred without any power to levy a suspension. That noticeably angered the Angels, with president John Carpino saying in a statement that the decision “defies logic” and general manager Jerry Dipoto saying the club is “disappointed” in Hamilton.

Hamilton hasn’t been with the team all year. He didn’t have a locker at their Spring Training facility and he doesn’t have one at Angel Stadium, either. Asked if he could say Hamilton will play another game for the Angels this season, Moreno said, “I will not say that.”

A buyout or a trade would be very difficult, given that Hamilton — entering his age-34 season, recovering from right AC joint surgery on Feb. 4 and coming off two unproductive season — is owed $83 million and has a full no-trade clause. The contract language Moreno mentioned could change everything, though.

Normally teams are not allowed to put any additional language to protect them against usage of drugs or performance-enhancing substances. That’s what the Joint Drug Agreement is intended to protect against.

Moreno said you can add additional language to a contract if all sides — the player, his agents, MLB and the MLB Players Association — agrees.

“We have a contract with Hamilton, and in that contract, there’s specific language that he signed, and his agents approved, that said he cannot drink and use drugs,” Moreno said”. So we have specific language in the agreement. … We have a couple of other players that have the same thing.”

Moreno said he hasn’t spoken to Hamilton. Asked why, Moreno said: “Probably disappointed. But I think more than anything, we look at accountability — with all of our players. … I think that’s probably the biggest word here. We understand that he’s had struggles, and obviously he’s still having struggles, but the reality is there’s accountability. When you make an agreement, you need to stand up.”

Alden

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