Results tagged ‘ Josh Hamilton ’

Josh Hamilton has his home-run swing back …

Josh Hamilton, Kyle GibsonJosh Hamilton went 23 consecutive games without hitting a home run, a stretch in which he posted a .266/.324/.330 slash line.

In Wednesday’s 3-2, walk-off loss to the White Sox, Hamilton homered for the second time in as many days — and the fifth time this year — by taking a John Danks changeup out to right field to temporarily tie the game in the eighth.

“Been a while since I hit a home run,” Hamilton said. “They usually come in bunches. It’s good to finally see that changeup up and put a good swing on it. It was a 2-0 changeup. A week ago, I would have missed it because I would have cut my swing off. It’s starting to get there.”

By “cut my swing off,” Hamilton means he wasn’t turning on inside pitches because he was subconsciously compensating for his surgically repaired left thumb, which prompted him to miss nearly two months on the disabled list. For evidence of that, the Angels’ left fielder pointed to a swing he took against hard-throwing Royals right-hander Yordano Ventura on Saturday.

Ventura challenged him with a 96-mph fastball inside, and the left-handed-hitting Hamilton wound up hitting a lazy pop-up to third base.

“Sometimes you do things you don’t know you’re doing until one day you see it and you’re like, ‘Oh man,’” Hamilton said. “Tonight, pitch was in, let it loose.”

Alden

How many All-Stars are on the Angels? …

The Angels passed the halfway point of their season on Tuesday, and did so emphatically with their first doubleheader sweep since 2009.

It’s perhaps as good a time as any to see how many All-Stars they have.

They produced their most All-Stars in 1979, when Rod Carew, Bobby Grich, Brian Downing, Don Baylor, Nolan Ryan and Mark Clear were all chosen for the Midsummer Classic. They probably won’t have that many going to Target Field this year, but they’ll have a few. Below are some names worth mentioning, with statistical comps to those who play their positions in the American League (I excluded Josh Hamilton because he missed so much time) …

OF Mike Trout

BA: .315 (T-1st)
OBP: .410 (2nd)
SLG: .617 (1st)
WAR: 5.0 (1st)
HR: 19 (2nd)
SB: 10 (12th)

Chances: He’s a sure thing. Trout ranks second in the AL in fan votes, trailing only Jose Bautista and already notching more than 4 million, and will start his second straight All-Star Game at 22 years old.

1B Albert Pujols

BA: .257 (8th)
OBP: .312 (10th)
SLG: .467 (6th)
HR: 17 (4th)
WAR: 1.5 (7th)

Chances: He looked like an All-Star again in April, but has dropped off ever since and now there are a handful of other first basemen putting up better numbers. His reputation will have to carry him. If it doesn’t, it will be three straight All-Star Game absences for Pujols.

SS Erick Aybar

BA: .277 (4th)
OBP: .316 (9th)
SLG: .419 (2nd)
HR: 4 (T-4th)
SB: 8 (6th)
WAR: 2.9 (1st)

Chances: Tough to say. Aybar has had a terrific first half, but Derek Jeter is going to start his final All-Star Game, and Aybar typically loses the popularity contests. Alexei Ramirez is also deserving.

SP Garrett Richards

ERA: 2.81 (8th)
WHIP: 1.07 (5th)
W: 9 (T-5th)
SO: 108 (8th)
IP: 109 (14th)

Chances: In my opinion, he should. But like Aybar, he’s just not as big a name — yet. I still think Richards finds a way onto the staff, especially when you consider that so many pitchers back out every year. Winning AL Player of the Month for June wouldn’t hurt, either.

SP Jered Weaver

ERA: 3.56 (20th)
WHIP: 1.16 (T-9th)
W: 9 (T-5th)
SO: 92 (T-12th)
IP: 116 1/3 (5th)

Chances: Like Pujols, he’ll need his track record to carry him to his fourth All-Star Game. Solid year so far, but by no means great.

Alden

Takeaways from a 14-inning thriller …

Collin CowgillTuesday night’s game will be remembered mostly for Collin Cowgill‘s walk-off homer, which set up the Angels’ fifth straight win and put them 2 1/2 games back in the American League West, and for Yoenis Cespdes‘ throw, one of the best anybody has ever seen. But here are some other takeaways from one of the most interesting games of the season …

  • This was the Angels’ best pitching performance of the year. Hector Santiago provided six scoreless innings in his return from Triple-A Salt Lake, scattering three hits while walking one and striking out eight. Then, six relievers (Kevin Jepsen, Mike Morin, Joe Smith, Cam Bedrosian, Fernando Salas and Cory Rasmus) combined to give up one run in eight innings, scattering five hits, walking two and striking out six, going toe-to-toe with an A’s bullpen that ranks third in the Majors in relief-pitcher WHIP.
  • The Angels, as Mike Scioscia said, “were fortunate tonight.” They made two critical baserunning blunders, with Albert Pujols running through a Gary DiSarcina stop sign in the sixth to easily get thrown out at home by Brandon Moss, and Kole Calhoun trying to advance to third in the 11th on a ground ball to shortstop Jed Lowrie, who flipped to Josh Donaldson for the easy out.
  • Scioscia made a questionable decision to have Calhoun bunt in the 13th, after Mike Trout drew a leadoff walk. Calhoun did his job, which meant Trout advanced to second, but with first base open, the A’s opted to walk Josh Hamilton (even though they had a lefty, Jeff Francis, pitching). The sac bunt took the bat out of the hands of one of the Angels’ best players, and paved the way for an inning-ending double play from David Freese.
  • The Angels and A’s play a lot of extra innings. In five matchups between the two at Angel Stadium, they’ve now gone to extra innings three times. That, in addition to the 19-inning game played in Oakland on April 29 of last year.

Alden

Hamilton returns, will probably be ‘a little antsy’ …

Josh HamiltonJosh Hamilton, as expected, was activated off the disabled list after an eight-week recovery from surgery on his left thumb Tuesday, giving the Angels a full lineup for the first time since he went down on April 8. Here’s a partial transcript of what he had to say …

Did it feel like eight weeks?

No, it didn’t. If I didn’t have my family with me it would’ve probably felt really long. That was the thing that made it pass by quickly.

Any changes in your approach sliding into first base?

I’m going to give it a break for a while. … I’m not going to change the way I play. I’ll get smarter as far as trying to know when to do things and when not to do things. … Know the situation, know the importance of the game. All of those things. … You want to be here for the long haul, you want to play as many games as possible. I never thought about it as far as sliding, because I’ve never been hurt sliding.

What were your thoughts the way they played while you were out?

I told [Mike Scioscia] I’ll sit out for a while [joking]. But it’s good to see young guys come in and fill a spot and do it well enough to keep you where you are in the standings or moving forward. The guys have done a good job moving us forward. And that’s what being on a championship team is all about. You have depth and guys come in and do that.

Can you play the field every day?

I told [Scioscia], ‘When I come up, don’t be taking me out of the lineup. Just let me go out there and play.’ That’s the way I’ve always felt.

Is your rehab assignment enough time to know if your rhythm and timing are there like it was early in the year?

You go by the at-bats you had. I’ve been having good results, good swings. It felt good. I hit the ball the other way — line drives, six-hole, left field, pulled the ball, hit balls up the middle, hit changeups, fastballs, curveballs, all of the above.

Do you expect a learning curve?

I don’t know about a learning curve. Probably a little antsy. That’s the biggest thing. Because you’ve been out of the mix as far as being in the stadiums, the crowds, all of the above. So, coming back, slowing the game down and being relaxed is key.

What are your expectations on this lineup at full strength?

Just continue to build what they’ve been doing. Throwing me back in the mix should help, but as a team, collectively, you still have to produce and perform on a consistent basis. That’s what I hope and expect, as we continue to get better and perform, and the chemistry continues to get better and better. And if it does that, we’ll be right there at the end.

  • In a pretty surprising move, the Angels called up right-handed reliever Cam Bedrosian from Double-A Arkansas and optioned Michael Kohn. Bedrosian, ranked 13th in the Angels’ system by MLB.com, had a 1.12 ERA in 24 appearances for Class A Advanced Inland Empire and Double-A Arkansas this year. The 22-year-old struck out 45 batters in 24 innings. Kohn had given up six runs in his last 4 1/3 innings, walking nine batters in that stretch.
  • Mike Trout returned to the lineup after missing the Saturday and Sunday game due to a back injury. The Angels’ center fielder got some stem-cell therapy done during the team’s off day on Monday, took some early batting practice in the cage on Tuesday and “didn’t feel it at all.” “I was worried about it for a little bit,” Trout said. “But I felt good in early BP. I’m in there. That’s always good.”
  • Dane De La Rosa exceeded the maximum amount of time he can be on a rehab assignment, so the Angels activated him off the DL — then optioned him to Triple-A because they don’t deem him ready to rejoin their bullpen just yet.
  • The Yankees claimed left-hander Wade LeBlanc, who was designated for assignment on Saturday because the Angels needed some length out of the bullpen to cover them for a couple of days. That’s a tough blow to their organizational starting pitching depth, and they only ended up needing two-thirds of an inning out of Jarrett Grube.

Angels (30-26)

Kole Calhoun, RF
Trout, CF
Albert Pujols, 1B
Hamilton, LF
Howie Kendrick, 2B
Raul Ibanez, DH
David Freese, 3B
Chris Iannetta, C
Erick Aybar, SS

SP: LH C.J. Wilson (6-4, 3.05 ERA)

Astros (24-34)

Dexter Fowler, CF
Jose Altuve, 2B
George Springer, RF
Jason Castro, C
Matt Dominguez, 3B
Jonathan Singleton, 1B
Chris Carter, DH
Robbie Grossman, LF
Jonathan Villar, SS

SP: RH Collin McHugh (3-3, 2.80 ERA)

Alden

For the first time in 2014, Pujols sits …

Albert PujolsAlbert Pujols won’t be playing in 162 games this season. Angels manager Mike Scioscia made sure of that on Wednesday, when he told his superstar first baseman he’d be sitting for the first time in Thursday’s series finale at Safeco Field and didn’t let Pujols talk his way out of it.

He tried though.

“Yeah, but they said no,” Pujols admitted, laughing. “They don’t even want me to hit. I’m just going to go to the cage just to get loose. I’m not taking batting practice, either.”

The primary goal – more so than having him in the lineup for every game – is to make sure they keep Pujols fresh throughout the season, especially after he missed the last two months of 2013 with a partial tear of his left plantar fascia. Pujols said his lower half is “good” and “better than it was on the last road trip,” when the hard turf at Rogers Centre took its toll on the 34-year-old.

Scioscia wanted to give Pujols the day off “just to get him to recharge.”

“Albert will go out and play till the cows come home,” Scioscia added. “It’s time for him to take a day today.”

Pujols is batting .262 with a team-leading 14 homers, but his production has dipped over the last month or so, with a .236/.298/.445 slash line, five homers and 19 strikeouts in his last 28 games. In his last at-bat against Felix Hernandez on Wednesday night, though, Pujols stayed back on a 93-mph fastball and drove it to right field for a two-out RBI double in the ninth.

“It was middle-out, and that was a ball I was pulling a little bit,” said Pujols, who has started at designated hitter 11 times this year. “I was able to stay through it. Hopefully I can take it to the next series, and hopefully I get an opportunity to play tonight.”

  • Josh Hamilton was slated to take live batting practice on the field Thursday, and if that went well, he’d re-start his rehab assignment with Triple-A Tacoma on Friday. Scioscia is hopeful that Hamilton will return before the end of this road trip (Thursday in Houston).
  • Dane De La Rosa (right s/c joint irritation) appeared in back-to-back outings for Triple-A Salt Lake for the first time on Wednesday and Thursday, giving up a run in each one-inning outing. He isn’t ready to join the Angels just yet. Scioscia said his “stuff looked good,” but he’s “slowly making progress” and “to get the confidence to know he’s where he needs to be might take a couple more outings.”
  • Grant Green (.388/.404/.510) started over Collin Cowgill because, frankly, Scioscia wants to get him as many at-bats as possible since he’s swinging the bat so well (full lineup here).
  • Also, Kole Calhoun is back at leadoff. Scioscia: “With Albert out, we definitely want Mike [Trout] third. If you look at his ability to work counts, even though obviously he hasn’t been locked in since he came off the DL, I think hell be a positive in the leadoff spot, and with Erick [Aybar] in there, it will give us a good look before the heart of our lineup.”

Alden

C.J. Cron, Grant Green or Ian Stewart? …

Grant GreenJosh Hamilton should return soon — recent setback notwithstanding — and at that point the Angels will have an interesting decision in front of them.

Ultimately, it could come down to the following three guys for one roster spot …

C.J. Cron
Grant Green
Ian Stewart

It looks like Raul Ibanez‘s job is safe, partly because keeping him on the roster is the best way for the Angels to preserve their depth. Cron, Green and Stewart (still on the disabled list, but on track to be activated shortly after Hamilton) can all be optioned to the Minor Leagues. So it looks like it’ll come down to whom the Angels believe will benefit them most initially (I say “initially” because guys are sent down and called up all the time). Below is a look at what each brings, and doesn’t …

Cron

Stats: .283/.298/.478, 47 PA in MLB; .319/.369/.602, 122 PA in AAA
Benefits: A right-handed bat who can platoon with the left-handed-hitting Ibanez at designated hitter, and a natural first baseman — the only one on the roster — who can occasionally spell Albert Pujols.
Drawbacks: Cron still has some developing to do, and came up a little earlier than projected. In my opinion, he should only be up here if he’s going to get consistent at-bats. I’m not sure that would be the case with the Angels at full strength.

Green

Stats: .357/.378/.476, 45 PA in MLB; .349/.395/.505, 119 PA in AAA
Benefits: Versatility. Green is a natural shortstop who is most comfortable at second base and has gotten a lot more comfortable at third base and left field since being acquired by the Angels last July. For the last few days, he’s been getting a lot of early work at first base, too. And that could be big given what I mentioned above regarding Cron.
Drawbacks: It’s a right-handed bat for a bench that on most nights will probably have the right-handed-hitting Collin Cowgill available. Green has been much better against lefties (.935 OPS in 23 plate appearances) than righties (.768 in 22 plate appearances) during his stint in the big leagues. Still a small sample size, though.

Stewart

Stats: .176/.222/.382, 72 PA in MLB
Benefits: Stewart made the team out of Spring Training because on the nights Ibanez starts — and initially it was going to be almost all them — Mike Scioscia has a power left-handed bat off the bench. The fact Stewart can give David Freese a day off against a tough righty, while playing second and first base in an emergency situation, was also a benefit.
Drawbacks: Stewart’s performance hasn’t helped him, especially given how well Cron and Green have hit since coming up. He’s struck out 31 times in 24 games, but is working on getting his hands a little lower to shorten his swing path and hopefully cut those down.

So, which one would you pick? …

Alden

Burnett ‘excited, anxious to get back out there’ …

Sean Burnett, Mike SciosciaAfter an injury-riddled season, a surgical procedure, a nine-month rehab and a frustrating setback, lefty reliever Sean Burnett finally returned to the Majors on Friday, primed to appear out of the Angels’ bullpen for the first time in nearly a year.

“It’s a special day for me,” Burnett said, “and a day I’ve been waiting for a long time. I’m excited, anxious to get back out there.”

Burnett – signed to a two-year, $8 million contract in December 2012 – appeared in only 13 games last season before finally succumbing to elbow surgery in August 2013, a procedure that saw Dr. James Andrews re-open the scar from Burnett’s Tommy John surgery in 2004 and clean up residual scar tissue.

Burnett rehabbed all winter, started throwing bullpen sessions in Spring Training, had a bad reaction to a synvisc shot – an injectable lubricant used to treat arthritis – in late March, took a couple steps back, then slowly worked his way into a rehab assignment with Double-A Arkansas, giving up three runs in his first appearance and then throwing five straight scoreless outings.

The 31-year-old’s fastball sat mostly between 88 and 90 mph, which is about where he needs it to be, and said “the biggest thing for me was the movement was there, the life was on the ball, and I was able to locate down in the zone and repeat it.”

To activate Burnett off the disabled list, the Angels optioned first baseman/outfielder Efren Navarro to Triple-A Salt Lake, going back to the standard 13 position players and 12 relievers. Angels manager Mike Scioscia called Burnett “one of those guys that you don’t realize what he brings until he’s not here.”

With Burnett – 2.76 ERA, 1.23 WHIP with the Nats from 2010-12 – the Angels finally have a proven lefty reliever in a division with several menacing left-handed bats, one Scioscia can pair with Joe Smith and Ernesto Frieri in the back end of the bullpen.

Scioscia would like to get Burnett a low-leverage inning to get him re-acclimated, but said “if that game situation finds him tonight, he’s going to be out there.”

“I’m there physically,” Burnett said. “It’s just now the anxiousness and the nerves of getting back out there and doing it again for the first time in a big league mound. The stuff’s there, and the action on the ball is where it needs to be. It’s just controlling my emotions those first couple times out and not letting the excitement get to be.”

Some additional notes prior to the opener of a three-game series against the Royals …

  • Josh Hamilton (2-for-4 in his rehab debut on Thursday) was a late scratch from the Triple-A Salt Lake lineup on Friday. Scioscia said he got jammed badly in the ninth inning, causing soreness in his surgically repaired left thumb, and didn’t feel good during batting practice. He’s expected to return to the lineup on Saturday. As for whether Hamilton can be back by Monday in Seattle, as the left fielder had hoped, Scioscia said, “We’ll take it one day at a time.” No need to rush him for that, though.
  • Mike Trout (tight left hamstring) is back in the lineup after missing Wednesday’s game and then benefitting from the Angels’ scheduled off day on Thursday. He’s feeling a lot better.
  • Third baseman Ian Stewart (left hand contusion) had a “great” workout earlier today and could go on a rehab assignment on Saturday, Scioscia said.

Royals (23-23)

Nori Aoki, RF
Alcides Escobar, SS
Eric Hosmer, 1B
Billy Butler, DH
Alex Gordon, LF
Danny Valencia, 3B
Lorenzo Cain, CF
Pedro Ciraco, 2B
Brett Hayes, C

SP: LH Danny Duffy (2-3, 1.42 ERA)

Angels (26-20)

Howie Kendrick, 2B
Mike Trout, CF
Albert Pujols, 1B
David Freese, 3B
C.J. Cron, DH
Chris Iannetta, C
Erick Aybar, SS
Grant Green, LF
Collin Cowgill, RF

SP: LH C.J. Wilson (5-3, 3.16 ERA)

Alden

Santiago optioned to Triple-A …

Hector SantiagoThe Angels optioned Hector Santiago to Triple-A on Wednesday, 12 days after he was removed from the rotation, as the corresponding move to activate right fielder Kole Calhoun.

The Angels now have only an 11-man pitching staff, but will probably go back to the traditional 12 by Friday, with either Dane De La Rosa or Sean Burnett returning from the disabled list and a position player – likely Efren Navarro – going down to Triple-A.

Simply put, Santiago needs to pitch.

The 26-year-old left-hander had made only two appearances in nearly two weeks as a pseudo swingman and the Angels still view him as a starting pitcher long term. So he’ll get stretched out again with the Salt Lake Bees, with the hope of recapturing the command that will eventually bring him back to the rotation.

“Take it as a positive,” Santiago said, even though it was hard for him to. “They want me in the rotation; they want to keep me stretched out. But now it’s just time to work and get back into it.”

Santiago, acquired along with Tyler Skaggs in the three-team deal that sent Mark Trumbo to the D-backs in December, went 0-6 with a 5.19 ERA in the first seven starts of his Angels career. Some of it had to do with very little run support, or several instances of bad luck, or a back ailment he nursed through most of his first three starts. But mostly, Santiago was walking too many hitters (4.3 per nine innings) and letting too many innings snowball.

So early Wednesday afternoon, Santiago got called into manager Mike Scioscia’s office, where general manager Jerry Dipoto and pitching coach Mike Butcher were waiting with news the southpaw partly deemed inevitable.

“We were very open and honest about what we saw and what he needs to do, and Hector was very receptive,” Scioscia said. “I think he has a good frame of mind to work on the things he needs to work on, and I’d be very surprised if we’re not seeing him throwing the ball to his capabilities in a short amount of time, because he has a great arm.”

In the meantime, Matt Shoemaker will continue to fill Santiago’s old spot.

Shoemaker, a 27-year-old Minor League journeyman, has given up just three runs in 11 innings while beating Cliff Lee and David Price in two starts. He’ll take his regular turn on Saturday – the Angels are keeping their pitching schedule in order after the Thursday off day – and continue to start until either he struggles or Santiago gets it together or both occur.

“It’s a little bump in the road,” Santiago said. “Go down and work on the same thing we’ve been working on and take some positives out of the last outing and run with it.”

Some additional notes from a pretty newsy day …

  • Mike Trout was out of the starting lineup for the first time on Wednesday due to the left hamstring tightness he’s been experiencing for the last few days. The move was just precautionary, because Trout can take two days off with the Angels not playing on Thursday. He said the hamstring actually feels better today.
  • Pitching prospect R.J. Alvarez was placed on the seven-day Minor League disabled list due to some “elbow tenderness,” Dipoto confirmed. Alvarez flew back to Anaheim to get an MRI, which is pretty much standard operating procedure. Alvarez’s velocity was normal during his most recent outing on May 12 — five strikeouts in two perfect innings for Double-A Arkansas — and the Angels don’t have any reason to believe it’s anything serious at this point.
  • Calhoun batted sixth today, but will probably return to the leadoff spot when Josh Hamilton returns to the lineup (maybe Monday).
  • De La Rosa (Triple-A) and Burnett (Double-A) are both slated to pitch in a rehab outing today.
  • Ian Stewart (left hand contusion) is still experiencing some pain when he takes batting practice, but is hoping to go on a rehab assignment this weekend.

Alden

Decisions loom, but Ibanez probably safe …

Raul Ibanez, Yan GomesThe Angels will have a lot of interesting decisions to make in the next few days, but it appears Raul Ibanez’s standing on the roster will not be one of them.

Jerry Dipoto wouldn’t flat out say that the veteran designated hitter will not be released, but the Angels’ general manager did indicate that the club would continue to be patient with Ibanez – because he turned things around after a slow start last year, because they like his veteran presence, because he’s come through in late-game situations and because keeping him on the roster allows the organization to preserve depth.

“One of the real benefits about where we’re at right now is just the fact that we have unmasked some depth, and once you start peeling depth away, it’s not there anymore,” Dipoto said. “Raul has a track record. He has done this before. He has gone through cold spells, and he has gotten hot. There’s nobody here who believes Raul has had his last good days in the big leagues.”

The Angels’ current dilemma, no doubt, is a good one.

Efren Navarro, Grant Green, C.J. Cron and Luis Jimenez have come up from Triple-A and contributed in the last few weeks, and now several key position players are on the verge of being activated off the disabled list.

Third baseman David Freese (non-displaced fracture in right middle finger) and right fielder Kole Calhoun (sprained right ankle) are deep into a rehab assignment with Triple-A Salt Lake and could be back within the next couple days.

That would presumably lead to Jimenez (a right-handed-hitting third baseman) and Navarro (a left-handed hitter currently playing corner outfield) getting optioned.

But next week, when left fielder Josh Hamilton (sprained left thumb) and third baseman Ian Stewart (left hand contusion) are projected to return, is when things could get interesting.

The Angels would then perceivably have to make a decision between Green, a right-handed hitter who can play up to four different positions, and Cron, the slugging prospect who can spell Albert Pujols by playing first base and can be a right-handed-hitting complement to Ibanez at DH.

Stewart, who has batted .176 and struck out 31 times in 24 games, can be optioned to Triple-A.

“We’re finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel in getting guys back,” Dipoto said. “And the guys who have come up and chipped in have done such a great job that it makes it tough to have conversations. But my goodness, when you look at the way the roster has been stacked, it’s been fun.”

Ibanez, 41, has a .148/.268/.269 slash line in his first 36 games, but he posted only a .511 OPS in April last year and then turned it around shortly thereafter, with a 1.031 OPS in May. The Angels believe he can do the same now.

“To be fair, you bring a guy in, you remain patient with him, you give him his opportunity,” Dipoto said. “Raul wasn’t brought in to jam into the 4-hole and hit cleanup for a month. It hadn’t been a great six weeks for him. We’ll get him where he needs to be.”

Alden

Hamilton hits on the field, headed to Arizona …

Dodgers Angels BaseballJosh Hamilton hit on the field for the first time since tearing a ligament in his left thumb on Wednesday, swinging with one hand as he took side and front tosses from interim hitting coach Paul Sorrento.

Next, he’ll go to Arizona, where he’ll hit off a tee with both hands and play catch on Friday.

Hamilton hopes to take live batting practice when the Angels return from a six-game road trip through Toronto and Philadelphia on May 15, and he hopes to return to the starting lineup for the home series against the Royals from May 23-25 – six and a half weeks since Hamilton hurt his thumb while sliding headfirst into first base in Seattle.

Hamilton had been doing drills with his bottom hand in recent days, but asked to do them outside so he could make sure he continues to stay in the middle of the field.

The silver lining in all this is that it’s Hamilton’s left thumb that’s injured, not his right.

“The top hand helps guide when you go through, but still your bottom hand leads,” Hamilton said. “If I’m getting in good position here, then I know when I put my top one back on I’m going to be all right.”

Angels manager Mike Scioscia has used five different cleanup hitters behind Albert Pujols since Hamilton went down on April 8. Raul Ibanez has hit there 12 times, Howie Kendrick has hit there nine times (including Wednesday), Ian Stewart twice, and David Freese and C.J. Cron have started one game apiece in the No. 4 spot.

With Hamilton playing in only eight of the team’s first 32 games, the Angels are 14th in the Majors in OPS from the cleanup spot.

“We’ve had to do a lot of mixing and matching in the lineup,” Scioscia said. “That big presence behind Albert is something we’re searching for more.”

Some more injury notes …

  • Scioscia said it’s “a strong possibility” that Dane De La Rosa (right s/c joint irritation) joins the Angels on its next road trip, but he’ll need at least one more rehab outing.
  • It’s also “very possible” that Sean Burnett (recovery from August elbow surgery) ventures out on a rehab assignment next, after completing yet another extended spring outing in Arizona on Wednesday.
  • Kole Calhoun (sprained right ankle) ran on the field pretty close to full intensity on Wednesday and will join Hamilton in Arizona over the weekend. He hopes to start a rehab assignment at the four-week mark, which would be Tuesday.
  • Joe Smith (tightness in lower right side) is “doing much better, and we’ll see how he does in pregame.” He may be available tonight, if needed.

Yankees (17-15)

Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
Derek Jeter, SS
Carlos Beltran, RF
Mark Teixeira, 1B
Alfonso Soriano, DH
Yangervis Solarte, 3B
Brett Gardner, LF
Brian Roberts, 2B
John Ryan Murphy, C

SP: LH Vidal Nuno (0-0, 6.87 ERA)

Angels (16-16)

Collin Cowgill, RF
Mike Trout, CF
Pujols, 1B
Kendrick, 2B
Cron, DH
Erick Aybar, SS
Chris Iannetta, C
Grant Green, LF
John McDonald, 3B

SP: LH Hector Santiago (0-5, 5.01 ERA)

Alden

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