Results tagged ‘ Jerry DiPoto ’
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.”
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.”
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.”
The Angels have been a target of heavy scrutiny of late, with many criticizing their response to news that Josh Hamilton wouldn’t be suspended and some even suggesting that they leaked news of Hamilton’s situation, which violates the collectively bargained Joint Drug Agreement.
But Commissioner Rob Manfred indicated Wednesday that Major League Baseball is not investigating the Angels for alleged leaks, saying, “I have no reason to believe that the Angels did anything inappropriate.”
An arbitrator ruled Friday that Hamilton would not be suspended for a drug-related relapse, mainly because he self-reported the issue before a failed drug test. A statement written under general manager Jerry Dipoto said the Angels were “disappointed” in Hamilton. President John Carpino said, “It defies logic that Josh’s reported behavior is not a violation of his current program.”
Asked if he believes those comments will make it difficult for Hamilton to play for the Angels, Manfred said: “I’m sure that the club and the player will find a way to work together going forward. I don’t think it’s as serious a problem as a go-forward basis as it might appear to some.”
The Angels don’t have any further updates on Hamilton, but they’ll be in Houston next week, where Hamilton has been rehabbing from shoulder surgery since the team began Spring Training.
Angels manager Mike Scioscia doesn’t know if Hamilton will even be around the team then.
“I think right now the most important thing for Josh is to make sure he’s getting the help he needs, getting the support,” Scioscia said. “That’s where our concerns are. Well touch base with him.”
Kole Calhoun, RF
Mike Trout, CF
Albert Pujols, 1B
Matt Joyce, DH
David Freese, 3B
Erick Aybar, SS
Chris Iannetta, C
Efren Navarro, LF
Johnny Giavotella, 2B
SP: RH Matt Shoemaker (0-0, -.– ERA)
Austin Jackson, CF
Dustin Ackley, LF
Robinson Cano, 2B
Nelson Cruz, RF
Kyle Seager, 3B
Rickie Weeks, DH
Logan Morrison, 1B
Mike Zunino, C
Brad Miller, SS
SP: Hisashi Iwakuma (0-0, -.– ERA)
Brooks Baseball had Jered Weaver averaging 83.5 mph on his fastball on Opening Day, which would be the slowest average fastball velocity of his career. Scioscia said he isn’t concerned: “It points more toward being in sync mechanically than anything else. He was missing up a lot, never really got his changeup into the game like he can. I wouldn’t say there’s any red flags. The way he finished up last year and the crispness he showed at times in the spring, hell get it.”
Angels manager Mike Scioscia called Matt Joyce into his office early Tuesday afternoon to let him know he wouldn’t be in the lineup against Mariners lefty James Paxton, and perhaps also to ensure him that he isn’t a strict platoon player.
Joyce — heading into his final year before free agency — entered the season hopeful that he would be used in more of an everyday role, contrary to how he was used with the Rays, who gave him only 93 plate appearances against lefties. But he’s sitting against the first lefty of the season, with Collin Cowgill playing left field and David Freese moving into the cleanup spot. Scioscia explained to Joyce that he wants to incorporate his bench players more frequently early in the season.
Down the road,
“I wouldn’t say that I’m really surprised,” Joyce said of not being in the lineup. “For the last week, I haven’t really been dialed in. Sometimes that’s just the way it goes. If I was squaring a lot of balls left and right and was feeling good this past week, I’d be a lot more surprised than I am. But that’s the way the game goes sometimes. It’s a tough game, and it’s even tougher to be really consistent at. But for me, I’m going to be prepared for later in the game, when the situation arises and he looks my way, to come in the clutch or whatever it may be.”
Joyce, a 30-year-old left-handed hitter, has a career .819 OPS against righties and a .573 OPS against lefties. It’s a double-edged sword: You’re not going to get at-bats against same-side pitchers if you aren’t good against them, but you can’t get good against them unless you see them often.
“It’s extremely tough,” Joyce said. “It’s extremely tough when you’re going well and you’re seeing them a lot. I don’t think it’s anything that I’m really frustrated with. I’ll take the at-bats from lefties as they come and just keep working, man. That’s all you can do. Keep preparing and keep grinding. It’s a long season, so I’m sure I’ll get plenty of at-bats against them.”
Here are the lineups …
Kole Calhoun, RF
Mike Trout, CF
Albert Pujols, 1B
C.J. Cron, DH
Erick Aybar, SS
Chris Iannetta, C
Johnny Giavotella, 2B
SP: LH C.J. Wilson (0-0, 0.00 ERA)
Rickie Weeks, DH
Austin Jackson, CF
Robinson, Cano, 2B
Nelson Cruz, RF
Kyle Seager, 3B
Justin Ruggiano, LF
Logan Morrison, 1B
Mike Zunino, C
Brad Miller, SS
SP: LH Paxton (0-0, 0.00 ERA)
Huston Street didn’t want to talk about a potential extension on Monday, but was more than happy to take questions Tuesday and echoed the same sentiments Jerry Dipoto had prior to Opening Day: Talks have been good, and they will continue.
“We are close enough that I’m still engaged,” said Street, who was self represented but rehired his former agent, Alan Hendricks, to do the bulk of the negotiating with the team because the season has begun.
“I wanted to get it done before [the season], as every player does, for no other reason than it allows you to be singularly focused on your teammates. But the parameters are pretty clear based on timetables. The only thing that could shift anything is the amount of time it takes. Signing a contrat in April is a little different than signing in August. But we have a clear understanding of how timing of getting something done may or may not shift those parameters.”
Street wouldn’t go into specifics of how much of the deal is done and what the chances are that something will be done, but said, “I’m a blend of hopeful and optimistic.”
Opening Day is here, but a contract extension with Huston Street is “still possible,” Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto said.
“There were no deadlines in place,” Dipoto said prior to Monday’s game from Safeco Field. ‘We’re continuing to discuss. He wants to be here, we want him here. We’re not in a rush to get to anything, and we never will.”
Street, self-represented, is entering his final season before free agency and has been in casual negotiations with the Angels about an extension since the early stages of the offseason. The veteran closer previously said he would only continue to negotiate an extension past Opening Day if both sides have the parameters in place, but there’s no indication if that’s the case.
Street, who declined to speak with the media prior to Monday’s game, was initially seeking a four-year deal between $36 million and $46 million. One of those years would ideally replace his $7 million salary for the 2015 season, and that can still happen, as long as he finishes the year making his new salary. A higher salary in 2015 would be more beneficial to the Angels because they have $10 million to $15 million of wiggle room below the luxury-tax threshold.
“We have all year to negotiate with Huston,” Dipoto said, “and as long as he’s going to remain open to the possibility, so are we. But it’s not something that we have predetermined is going to happen, nor has he. We’re staying open to the possibility.”
The Angels were previously in a holding pattern while waiting on clarity regarding Josh Hamilton‘s situation. The fact he won’t be suspended means they get no additional salary relief, which may impact how much they’re willing to pay Street. But both sides remain interested, and they seem willing to keep negotiating.
Dipoto said the talks have had a “friendly tone.”
“We’re not hard-core negotiation at a table staring at each other trying to find whether we will or we won’t,” he said.
Opening Day is finally here, and Safeco Field seems like a fitting place to start. It’s home to the team many have picked to win the American League West. And it kicks off with a matchup between Felix Hernandez and Jered Weaver, the two guys who have made the most consecutive Opening Day starts in the Majors (Hernandez at seven, Weaver at six).
But Opening Day is only a ceremonial thing. “One of 162,” as many say. The season is long and arduous. And by the end of it, what happens on Opening Day or even in the first series will be nothing but a distant memory (like last year, when the Mariners embarrassed the Angels with a lopsided sweep in Southern California at the start of April).
If the Angels want to win another division title, they’ll have to answer several questions over the course of these next six months. And below are the seven most prominent …
1. What becomes of Josh Hamilton?
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize the Angels aren’t necessarily in a welcoming mood with Hamilton, who’s still recovering from shoulder surgery and won’t be suspended for a self-reported drug relapse. The tone of their statements after news broke — and what they’ve said privately leading up to it — made you wonder if they even want him around. He’s a very likable guy, but he hasn’t lived up to his massive contract and his latest relapse struck a nerve with the Angels’ brass (make of that what you will). He won’t be going away, though. He’s owed $83 million over the next three years, so the Angels have to see what they get out of him. How does he fit into the roster? What type of production does he provide in his age-34 season? And how does he mesh with a team that may be better off without him? It’ll be the most fascinating storyline this season.
2. How good is Garrett Richards?
Richards has yet to allow a run in three Minor League outings and could return to the rotation by April 19 if all goes well, which means he basically misses only two starts. How good will he be upon returning, though? As good as he was leading up to the season-ending left knee injury he suffered Aug. 20? If so, this Angels rotation — with Jered Weaver, C.J. Wilson, Matt Shoemaker and Hector Santiago set to open the season — is more dangerous than people think. If not, they’re very vulnerable. A lot rides on Richards’ 26-year-old right arm (not to mention that left knee).
3. What will the Angels get out of second base?
They aren’t fooling themselves into thinking they’ll replicate the production of Howie Kendrick. If C.J. Cron takes the next step in his maturation process (see: patience), David Freese stretches his last four months into a full season and Albert Pujols continues to look as good as he did this spring, they won’t need it. But replacement level production would be nice. Johnny Giavotella will get the first crack, but we may see many guys play second base this year.
4. Who gets the lefties out?
The Angels haven’t had a true lefty specialist since the 2012 version of Scott Downs, and Downs wasn’t really used as a lefty specialist. Last year, the Angels’ go-to reliever to get lefty hitters out was the right-handed Fernando Salas, who has a nice changeup that darts away from left-handed hitters. Ideally, they’d have that traditional left-on-lefty guy. Mike Scioscia has mentioned Cesar Ramos and Jose Alvarez as possibilities, but they’re multi-inning relievers who don’t have the big stuff that plays in that role. The next hope would be Santiago, but that would hinge on Andrew Heaney or Nick Tropeano developing well enough to warrant Santiago’s current rotation spot.
5. How do they upgrade the roster?
Even without saving any money on Hamilton’s contract, the Angels enter the season with $10 to $15 million of wiggle room. That’s what Arte Moreno said early in camp. It’s more payroll flexibility than they’ve had in a while, and they plan to use it. Question is, how? Do they get a second baseman, even though there aren’t many of them out there? (Chase Utley looks like a long shot, because of how intimidating his contract is and because of his no-trade clause). Do they get an outfield/DH bat? Do they get a starting pitcher (a lot of big names are entering their walk years)? Or do they add more bullpen pieces, like they did last year? June/July should be very eventful.
6. What kind of year does Mike Trout have?
You could reasonably expect a great one, considering he stays healthy. But how does he follow up a season that saw him win the AL MVP unanimously? We saw Trout transition into more of a power game last year, hitting more home runs and stealing fewer bases. But he’s only 23 years old, scary as that seems, and he’s still figuring out who he’s going to be in this game. My guess is he cuts down those strikeouts — I don’t know anyone who truly believes Trout is a 180-strikeout-a-year player — but doesn’t increase his stolen-base total by much. The Angels seem content with how often they sent Trout last year. Teams watch him closely and, far more relevant in this matter, steals cause a lot of wear and tear on the body.
7. Are the Angels better than the Mariners?
That’s probably what it’s going to come down to. The Mariners are a popular pick to win the division, because their rotation could be something fierce, their bullpen was one of the best in the game last season and their lineup got a big missing piece they needed in power hitter Nelson Cruz. But the Angels return the core group of a team that led the Majors in wins and finished second in run-differential last year. They’re starting a season with what should be a reliable bullpen for the first time since Jerry Dipoto came on board in October 2011 and they carry the confidence of succeeding with this group.
It should be interesting.
And to get you ready, here’s a look at our Opening Day content, in case you missed anything …
- Anticipated Angels-Mariners clash kicks off Opening Day
- Weaver, the forgotten ace, starts another Opening Day
- The simple question nobody can answer: What does Trout mean to the Angels?
- Kendrick is gone, Hamilton is a mystery — is the offense still elite?
- Scioscia, baseball’s longest-tenured manager, talks about his latest team
- Hamilton won’t be punished, and now the Angels have to see how he fits in
MORE LINKS! An updated depth chart is here, injury updates are here, pitching probables are here and a look at the top 30 prospects is here. You can follow me on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. And you can subscribe to my weekly Angels podcast with Richard Justice here.
MLB.com compiled dozens of predictions on who will win each division, how the postseason will play out and where all the major individual awards will go. Below were my picks, if you’re interested …
NL East: Nationals
NL Central: Cardinals
NL West: Dodgers
AL East: Red Sox
AL Central: White Sox
AL West: Angels
NL Wild Cards: Marlins, Pirates
AL Wild Cards: Mariners, Indians
NL champion: Nationals
AL champion: Angels
World Series champion: Nationals
NL MVP: Giancarlo Stanton
NL Cy Young: Max Scherzer
NL Rookie of the Year: Kris Bryant
AL MVP: Josh Donaldson
AL Cy Young: Chris Sale
AL Rookie of the Year: Steven Souza
Feliz Opening Day!
As you’ve probably heard by now, Josh Hamilton will not be suspended for a drug-related relapse that occurred late in the offseason and, based on public statements, the Angels are not happy with the ruling. Jerry Dipoto took questions in a press conference for 15 minutes Friday, Mike Scioscia spoke about it pregame and several other players took questions, too. Not much is known right now, and this story will continue to evolve.
The Angels made it known that they’re disappointed in Hamilton, but their brass also said they’ll do whatever it takes to support him and the players expressed sympahthy. There’s no word on when Hamilton will rejoin the team, and there still isn’t much clarity on where he is with his rehab. He’s still in Houston working back from shoulder surgery, and he still hasn’t gotten into full baseball activities.
Below are some of the comments.
Jerry Dipoto, on how much responsibility the Angels hold …
“When Josh signed with the Angels in the winter of 2012, he came with a very well known and public story of addiction, a battle with addiction. We understood the complications that sometimes travel with that. We are not here to short sell the troubles or the reality of addiction. There is a responsibility, professional responsibility, to do the job you’re asked to do. Every player is going to be held to that standard, much in the same way every player is held to a standard to do my job. That’s just life. That’s the way it works. We have built an infrastructure that is very similar to what Josh had in Texas. We have brought with Josh the same people that he had in Texas. … We have had someone there with Josh, we have followed the same blueprint that was laid out for him with the Texas Rangers and that seemed to be so successful at the time. Don’t know what else we can do to accommodate his needs, as we’ve done with every other player. Every marriage that I know of is 50-50. I don’t know another way to do it. If you would like us to absorb 90-10 of the blame, then I think you’re wrong. … When we enter into these types of agreements with any player, whether it’s five years and $125 million or deals we’ve done with other high-profile players or the lowest-service-time rookie on the staff, you’re entering into a marriage with that player, and an agreement that he will be responsible and accountable for his actions — to his teammates, to his manager, to his staff, to his front office, to his organization to his public. Whatever happens off the field — with your family, your god, whatever you do — we all have those responsibilities. We have done what we can, in the moment, to support Josh. We have built infrastructures that are there to support him, and we feel no regret for anything we’ve done in that regard. And we will continue to do those things. We will continue to put systems in place that will aid both Josh and other players.”
Mike Scioscia, on today’s news …
“We’re going to take this process one step at a time. The most important thing is Josh, and getting himself where he needs to be. Addiction is a terrible thing and he’s trying to deal with that. Any time frame for when he’s going to be back in baseball activities, we don’t have. He’s going to still recuperate in Houston, see when he gets back in baseball activities, and we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it.”
C.J. Wilson, on the Angels’ statements …
“The statement had multiple phases, and I’m just going to focus on the last part of it which is we’re concerned with what’s best for Josh and his family. That’s the part that I agree with; it’s the first thing I said when this came out, that my concern is with Josh and his family. From a performance standpoint, a super healthy Josh Hamilton is a great thing, a productive Josh Hamilton is a great thing, from an offensive and defensive standpoint. As well as a clubhouse standpoint. I feel like he’s a great guy. People like him. I don’t know how much I should read into prepared statements from other people at this point. Josh came forward, he admitted fault, and I think that’s a very manly thing to do in this day and age, when everyone’s trying to cover stuff up and buy people off. I think that just shows that Josh understands he’s under the microscope, and even if he makes a mistake he’s not going to hide anything.”
Albert Pujols, on the Hamilton situation lingering …
“Our main focus is to get to the playoffs again. We can’t bring distractions outside of this clubhouse. Obviously Josh is a big part of this organization, this ballclub. But whatever decision that Major League Baseball makes is their decision. It’s not our decision. Our decision is to try to stay focused and get ourselves ready for the season and make sure we don’t bring any outside distractions.”
Josh Hamilton will not be suspended or otherwise disciplined after an arbitrator ruled that the Angels outfielder did not violate the terms of his drug treatment program, Major League Baseball said Friday.
Hamilton self-reported a drug-related relapse that occurred late in the offseason, then met with MLB officials in New York on Feb. 25 and remained in Houston thereafter, rehabbing from surgery on his right shoulder and awaiting what was considered a likely suspension.
The decision not to levy any punishment – a product of Hamilton admitting to the relapse before a failed drug test – came as a surprise the Angels noticeably disagreed with.
In a statement issued by the club, general manager Jerry Dipoto said the Angels “have serious concerns about Josh’s conduct, health and behavior, and we are disappointed that he has broken an important commitment which he made to himself, his family, his teammates and our fans. We are going to do everything possible to assure he receives proper help for himself and for the well-being of his family.”
In a separate statement, Angels president John Carpino said: “It defies logic that Josh’s reported behavior is not a violation of his current program.”
In a phone conversation a couple hours after the statement, Carpino said: “Our focus now, based on the arbitrator’s ruling, is to get Josh the help he needs, for himself and for his family.”
A four-panel treatment board – consisting of two representatives each from MLB and the MLB Players Association – deadlocked on whether Hamilton violated the terms of his treatment program, requiring the need for an outside arbitrator that ultimately ruled in Hamilton’s favor.
MLB took the position that Hamilton violated his treatment program and would be subject to discipline by Commissioner Rob Manfred, but the arbitrator ruled that “Hamilton’s conduct did not violate his treatment program,” according to MLB, leaving Manfred without the right to impose any penalties.
“The Office of the Commissioner disagrees with the decision,” MLB said in its statement, “and will seek to address deficiencies in the manner in which drugs of abuse are addressed under the program in the collective bargaining process.”
The arbitrator considered Hamilton’s latest transgression a “slip” and not a violation, according to the Los Angeles Times, leaving the Angels without any additional salary relief in 2015. Hamilton’s agent, Michael Moye, could not be reached for comment and the MLBPA has no plans to issue a statement.
Asked for an update on Hamilton’s injury rehab, Dipoto said in a text message that there is “nothing new to add.”
Hamilton had alcohol-related relapses leading up to the 2009 and ’12 seasons, but those weren’t punishable by MLB. His most recent relapse, reportedly involving cocaine and alcohol, was his first known drug use since October 2005.
Hamilton went from a can’t-miss, blue-chip prospect to a drug addict who was out of baseball for four years to a perennial All-Star, an inspiring story that captivated the nation and brought hope to addicts everywhere. But the demons of addiction remained a daily struggle for Hamilton, who had an accountability partner with him at all times during the season until he downsized the role in 2014.
“I’m a drug addict,” Hamilton told USA Today in an interview shortly after being reinstated in June 2006. “It’s not terminal, but there is no cure. It’s hell on earth. It’s a constant struggle. And it’s going to be like that for the rest of my life.”
Two years after being drafted first overall by the Rays out of a Raleigh, N.C., high school in 1999, Hamilton began to experiment with drugs and alcohol while rehabbing injuries from a traffic accident. That led to taking the 2003 season off, then being suspended from 2004-06 for multiple failed drug tests.
Eight months sober, Hamilton was reinstated in June 2006, then went unprotected in the Rule 5 Draft and ended up with the Reds, with whom he played his rookie season in 2007. He was dealt to the Rangers the following December, kicking off a five-year run during which he started in five straight All-Star Games, played in back-to-back World Series, hit a record 28 homers in the opening round of the 2008 Home Run Derby at Yankee Stadium and won the 2010 American League Most Valuable Player Award.
The Angels signed Hamilton to a five-year, $125 million contract in December 2011, but didn’t get much in the first two years.
Hamilton batted .250 with 21 homers and 79 RBIs in 2013 and finished an injury-plagued 2014 season with a .263 batting average and 10 home runs in 89 games. Hamilton missed 10 weeks recovering from thumb surgery early in 2014, then spent almost all of September rehabbing injuries along his right side — shoulder, traps, chest, ribcage — and went 0-for-13 in an AL Division Series sweep to the Royals.
Doctors were hopeful that extra offseason rest would counteract the need for invasive procedures, but Hamilton’s arthritic right shoulder bothered him again once he started swinging full force, prompting surgery to repair his right AC joint on Feb. 4.
The recovery timeline was initially six to eight weeks, with Hamilton not expected back until May. Anticipating a likely suspension, the Angels didn’t issue Hamilton a locker at their Spring Training complex and didn’t have one designated for him at Angel Stadium on Thursday night, either.
Longtime teammate C.J. Wilson has been in touch with Hamilton and said, “I feel like he’s doing everything he can to get ready to play baseball again.”
The left-handed-hitting Matt Joyce is now slated to be the everyday left fielder and the right-handed-hitting C.J. Cron will get the majority of at-bats at designated hitter, with right-handed-hitting outfielder Collin Cowgill occasionally spelling Joyce against tough lefties.
“I think we’re deep enough on the offensive side that we should be OK,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said Thursday. “But you can’t plan on using what you don’t have. We’re going to take this one step at a time with Josh.”
The next step will be the toughest – the Angels must figure out how to fold Hamilton back in.
Johnny Giavotella hit a one-out double in the left-center field gap, moved to third on a single by Eric Staments and scored on a wild pitch by Rangers reliever Lisalverto Bonilla, giving the Angels a walk-off win after three straight losses in the ninth inning.
Most important thing: C.J. Cron, who figures to get most of the DH at-bats, hit a majestic home run that landed at the edge of the grass in left-center field. He’s 5-for-14 so far this spring.
Second-most important thing: Hector Santiago served up a two-run homer to Leonys Martin, but he issued no walks and said he only got in one three-ball count during his three-inning outing. That’s the most important factor for him.
Third-most important thing: Marc Krauss, who has an outside shot at winning a spot on the roster as an additional left-handed bat, hit a two-run shot to center field in the eighth.
Fourth-most important thing: Dark-horse rotation candidate Jose Alvarez had four baserunners, gave up two hits and allowed a run in the eighth inning. Perhaps even more telling: He only pitched one inning, and it was the eighth.
Fifth-most important thing: Scott Snodgress came in with two on and two outs in the fourth, got left-handed hitter Rougned Odor to line out and pitched a clean fifth inning. Jerry Dipoto identified Snodgress as his best lefty reliever prospect today, which sounds weird because he was signed as a Minor League free agent. But he’s only 25 and is still transitioning to the bullpen.
Best defensive play (that I actually saw): To end the fourth, Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus ranged deep in the hole, fielded an Alex Yarbrough grounder and retired him with a nice jump throw. He’s fun to watch.
Quotable: Santiago: “Last game I got a little amped up. This game, I was under control and it went exactly the way it went in the offseason [bullpen sessions].”