One day after going 0 for 5 with three double-play groundouts and two strikeouts, Josh Hamilton was penciled into the seventh slot of the batting order for the first time since 2009.
Angels manager Mike Scioscia indicated that Hamilton will stay there for as long as the slump continues. Sixty-nine games into his five-year, $133 million contract with the Angels, Hamilton is batting .213 with 73 strikeouts.
“It’ll be good for him to get out of the middle of the lineup, protecting Mike (Trout), protecting Albert (Pujols),” Scioscia said.
It seems as if the pressure is getting to Hamilton more than his demeanor on the field would indicate. Hamilton was booed roundly by the home fans last night, only to walk off the field calmly each time. No bats were broken, no Gatorade bottles thrown in the process.
More than ever since arriving in Anaheim, Hamilton wants to make sure fans don’t confuse his patience for apathy.
“I’m not going to break my bat on the field. There’s kids watching,” he said. “If they [the fans] don’t think I care, they’re mistaken because it hurts me more than it hurts anybody not to be performing.”
However it is that Hamilton expresses his frustration behind the scenes, Scioscia has noticed.
“There’s been some need to alleviate pressure. There’s a lot of tools you can use,” he said. “Moving (Hamilton) down to the bottom of the order until he gets comfortable is probably the best thing for him.”
For what it’s worth, Hamilton is batting .333 (23 for 69) with two home runs and five RBIs in his career out of the seven-hole. He’s only started one game lower in the order; Hamilton once batted eighth as a rookie with the Cincinnati Reds in 2007.
This is just the latest of many remedies the Angels have tried. So far none have worked.
“We’ve got to figure out something,” Hamilton said, “whether it’s moving me down — I really like hitting in the two-hole — but we’ve got to do something. We’re on the same page. We’ve got to figure something out.”
Hamilton said he continues to watch video of his successful at-bats in the past. There’s still a noticeable discrepancy between his approach as an Angel and as a perennial All-Star as a Texas Ranger.
Maybe it’s his mechanics. Maybe it’s his timing. Hamilton said he’s “a little in-between with (pitchers) in their stretch and my timing.” Either way, the slugger said he isn’t watching video to identify those discrepancies anymore.
“Now it’s not as much mechanical as it is confidence,” he said. “I look at video not so much mechanical but seeing yourself doing good things.”
So yes, Hamilton hears the boos — so many of them, in fact, that they don’t bother him anymore.
“I’ve been hearing it all year,” he said. “I hate to say you get used to it. It’s not something you want to get used to but I don’t blame ‘em.”