Josh Hamilton is in the Angels lineup. That could change soon.
It changed Tuesday and Thursday, when Hamilton was originally penciled into the lineup then scratched due to back spasms shortly before game time. At least Thursday, he was able to go into the game in right field in the seventh inning.
“They asked me,” Hamilton recalled. “I was in here (the clubhouse) getting treatment. About the sixth inning I went into the cage, took some swings and got ready to play in the game.”
It’s a drill Hamilton knows all too well, but it’s the first time he’s gone through the drill as an Angel. For that reason, the team is trusting Hamilton to self-report, not pushing him in or pulling him out of the lineup with a quick trigger, but truly taking his health on a day by day basis.
Even though it would give the team a fresh body on the bench, Angels manager Mike Scioscia said that giving Hamilton time to recover on the 15-day disabled list hasn’t been discussed.
“I don’t think it’s that type of thing,” Scioscia said. “It’s something he’s nursed his way through before.”
Hamilton said the days off have helped, although he is batting just 4 for 23 (.174) in his last seven games, including Thursday.
Tonight’s game against the Astros will be Hamiton’s seventh turn as the designated hitter, which he said will allow him to get treatment on his back between at-bats if needed.
Optimistically, Hamilton is on pace to play 159 games this season, which would be a career high. The 32-year-old outfielder has averaged 113 games a season in his seven-year major-league career.
Pessimistically, Hamilton is a 32-year-old outfielder taking the precautions of a catcher in his late 30s. But he believes the current course of action is in both his and the Angels’ best interests.
“When you have a lineup like ours,” he said, “you can afford to take a day here or there.”