Josh Hamilton’s recent hot streak landed him back in the cleanup spot Tuesday. The Angels right fielder entered the series against St. Louis 9 for his last 21, having raised his average 16 points in the last week to .223.
Is Hamilton willing to say he has finally turned a corner?
“I wouldn’t say that,” he said. “Give me a month. I’ll give you a better answer.
“Hopefully the pitch recognition will stay and I’ll keep having better at-bats. That’s all you want to do is have better at-bats, get on base any way you can, try to help the team.”
It may not be too soon to say the St. Louis Cardinals emerged on the better end of the Albert Pujols 2011 sweepstakes.
The 33-year-old slugger has more than eight years of his $240 million contract remaining to provide production, but on Tuesday Pujols faced his former team for the first time sporting a losing record and zero playoff appearances in anything other than a Cardinals uniform.
St. Louis, meanwhile, is only gaining respect precisely because of what it achieving without players like Pujols. The Cardinals entered Tuesday 17 games above .500.
Angels reliever Ryan Madson is attempting a new strategy in his return from Tommy John surgery.
After several setbacks, the pitcher the Angels hoped would challenge for their closer role has decided he won’t throw all-out until he absolutely has to.
Currently on the 60-day disabled list, Madson is throwing bullpen sessions off a mound every third day.
“I may not even throw 100 percent until I’m in a major league game,” Madson said. “When I feel healthy again, I need to be a little smarter. Even when I think ‘Oh, I can rip one,’ I need to conserve more until I feel more comfortable.”
There was a voice noticeably missing from the Angels’ team meeting Monday following a series sweep by the cellar-dwelling Astros.
Though he is busy hitting over .300 in Detroit, Torii Hunter’s was the first name mentioned by Mark Trumbo, who said several players and coaches spoke during the closed-door meeting.
“The obvious would be that Torii isn’t here,” Trumbo said. “Nobody’s going to replace Torii. Obviously he was a true class act and a great leader. We have quite a few guys that stepped in and filled the void as best they can in their own way. We could go around the room but I think there’s some obvious choices in Albert (Pujols), Josh (Hamilton), Jered (Weaver), C.J. (Wilson) and Scott Downs, guys who have been around a while.”
If once is a fluke and twice is coincidence, four errors in three games is a trend at the very least. If not for Brendan Harris’ nimble feet, Alberto Callaspo may have committed five since Sunday, more than a third of the Angels third baseman’s total last season.
Thanks to Harris not only leaping to snare a high throw, but skillfully landing on first base in the eighth inning of Monday’s 2-1 loss to the Houston Astros, Callaspo avoided his second consecutive two-error game. Since committing two throwing errors in a 5-4 loss to the Astros on Sunday, Callaspo committed one each Monday and Tuesday.
The latest was the first fielding error of the bunch and the most costly on the scoreboard. The ball slipped out of Callaspo’s glove as he made the transfer following a slow-rolling ground ball, costing the Angels a pair of unearned runs in the third inning of Tuesday’s series opener with the Chicago Cubs.
Josh Hamilton knows the remedy for the back spasms the kept him out of Tuesday’s lineup, an injury he has dealt with in the past. The Angels right fielder took some muscle relaxers Tuesday night, woke up sore but not so much that he couldn’t play Wednesday.
“I was just making a swing and felt it grab me,” Hamilton said. “It’s happened before. I knew exactly what it was when I felt it and I knew it would subside in a few hours.”
The Angels deviated from their plan to activate Ryan Madson this weekend, opting instead to send the reliever to Triple-A Salt Lake Thursday for what Madson said could be a couple of weeks.
The move is surprising considering Madson punctuated a productive 10-day stretch with his first rehabilitation appearance on Monday since offseason Tommy John surgery, pitching a perfect inning for Single-A Inland Empire.
“I don’t know if it’s going to take a couple weeks,” Scioscia said. “It might. It might not. But I think that we want to make sure that he is ready to go and this rehab sticks when it goes. He’ll let us know how he feels, but he’s been talking about how close he is.”