Slumping slugger Josh Hamilton is batting fifth against the Texas Rangers.

Josh Hamilton

Josh Hamilton is playing the Texas Rangers today.

When the Angels and Rangers hooked up in spring training, that was enough to capture a few headlines. When the Angels visited Arlington, Texas in the opening week of the season, it captured even more.

Today, the story wasn’t about Hamilton facing his old team. That’s old news.

The story was in a lineup card that saw Hamilton batting fifth for the first time as an Angel and for the first time since July 29-31 of last season. Mark Trumbo will bat cleanup and Albert Pujols remains the number-three hitter against the Rangers and left-hander Derek Holland.

“Trum’s hot,” Hamilton said of Trumbo, who is hitting .329 with two home runs and nine RBIs. “You always go with the hot guy.”

Hamilton’s demeanor (and, notably, his availability to the media) hasn’t changed during a season-long slump. He ranks among the bottom 20 in the American League in several key offensive categories, including batting average (.176), on-base plus slugging percentage (.570), wins above replacement (-0.4) and strikeouts (23). It’s not the return the Angels were hoping to get from their five-year, $133 million investment.

Hamilton said Monday that “I’d be happy never getting a hit again if we keep winning.”

He pointed out that he was dropped to fifth in the order last season. From July 1-27, he batted .145/.215/.290 as the Rangers’ number-three hitter. Dropped to fifth in the order for one game against the Chicago White Sox and two against the Angels, Hamilton went 4 for 10 with a home run. The next game, he was back in the three hole and proceeded to bat .310 with seven home runs and 28 RBIs in 28 games the month of August.

Likewise, Angels manager Mike Scioscia suggested that the move is temporary.

“Against a lefty, we’ll leave Trumbo there behind Albert right now until Josh finds his stride,” Scioscia said. “Against righties I think we’ll put Josh back in there just to see if he can stay in the middle and take advantage of what Albert and Mike (Trout) can create.”

Right-handers Alexi Ogando and Yu Darvish are scheduled to pitch the final two games of the series tomorrow and Wednesday.

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About J.P. Hoornstra

J.P. Hoornstra covers the Dodgers, Angels and Major League Baseball for the Los Angeles Daily News, Long Beach Press-Telegram, Torrance Daily Breeze, San Gabriel Valley Tribune, Pasadena Star-News, San Bernardino Sun, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin, Whittier Daily News and Redlands Daily Facts. Before taking the beat in 2012, J.P. covered the NHL for four years. UCLA gave him a degree once upon a time; when he graduated on schedule, he missed getting Arnold Schwarzenegger's autograph on his diploma by five months.