Albert Pujols won’t have plantar fascia surgery, hopes to return this season.

Albert Pujols

Albert Pujols could miss the remainder of the 2013 season after suffering a partially torn plantar fascia in his left foot Friday. (Associated Press)

Albert Pujols is counting on faith, his personal injury history, and a nearly pain-free left foot to carry his optimism for the next 6 to 8 weeks, or however long it takes to recover from a partially torn plantar fascia.

Pujols wouldn’t rule out returning to the Angels this season after being told by a team physician that the injury might need 6 to 8 weeks to heal. There are eight weeks and three days left in the regular season.

Pujols had been dealing with plantar fasciitis all season until he suffered the partial tear last Friday in Oakland.

“If it takes two months or three weeks or four weeks, great,” Pujols said. “I’m not going to try to rush anything.”
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Angels’ Josh Hamilton on ankle: ‘Should be good in a couple days.’

Angels right fielder Josh Hamilton will miss a second straight game due to inflammation in his right ankle tonight. An MRI performed on the ankle Tuesday revealed the inflammation, a diagnosis that Hamilton thinks will allow him to avoid the disabled list.

“None,” Hamilton said when asked if he had any concerns that the injury could linger long term. “Should be good in a couple days.”

Hamilton said he might get an injection tonight to calm the inflammation.

In Hamilton’s absence, Collin Cowgill is starting his second game in right field with the Angels, and second baseman Howie Kendrick is batting fourth again.

Hamilton said he still has no idea how he sustained the injury.

“I woke up,” he said.

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Postgame notes: A strange game caps a good series for the Angels.

The Angels’ 10-9 win over the Seattle Mariners was fun for a night. As I pointed out in my game story, they did something that no team had never done, beating Felix Hernandez after falling behind by seven runs.

Because it was such an anomaly it’s hard to extrapolate any long-term, big-picture ideas about what the win means for the Angels. Mike Scioscia tried.

“Hopefully it’ll inspire you the next time you’re down by two, three runs at any time in the game to just keep playing baseball. Hopefully that experience for some of the young guys out there — you just have to experience it, understand it.”
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Angels shift toward a leadoff platoon. Josh Hamilton seems to be the culprit.

Mike Trout has said he enjoys hitting leadoff. It’s what he has done for most of his baseball life and what he did Monday and Tuesday against the Seattle Mariners. But he was batting second again for the Angels on Thursday night.

Peter Bourjos, the leadoff hitter Wednesday, wasn’t batting first either.

Erick Aybar was the first man up Thursday after a 13-game absence from the top of the order, and manager Mike Scioscia said that the top of the order could be a rotating affair beyond tonight.
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The pressure seems to be getting to Josh Hamilton. The boos do not.

Josh Hamilton

Josh Hamilton will bat seventh Wednesday for the first time since 2009. (AP photo)

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.

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Josh Hamilton is back in the Angels’ linueup after a ‘needed’ day off.

Josh HamiltonAngels manager Mike Scioscia offered some clarification Monday for Josh Hamilton‘s somewhat unexpected day off Sunday against the New York Yankees.

Hamilton reportedly didn’t know he was sitting out the 6-5 loss, while Scioscia said it was previously scheduled.

“Josh knew we were going to try to stay away from him,” he said. “Trust me, he needed a day.”

Physically or mentally?

“Both.”

Hamilton, who is batting .213 this season, was passed over as a possible pinch hitter in the ninth inning Sunday in favor of Brad Hawpe and J.B. Shuck.

Monday, Hamilton was penciled into the second spot in the lineup against the Seattle Mariners.

Asked if Hamilton could continue to play through his physical issues this week, Scioscia said uninspiringly, “I hope so.”

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Daily Distractions: Miguel Cabrera 2, Mike Trout 0.

American League All-Star vote totals were released today. While not unkind to Mike Trout, he was staring up at a familiar face in the balloting.

Detroit Tigers third baseman Miguel Cabrera was the leading vote-getter with 1,500,165 votes. New York Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano is second with 1,235,230 votes and Trout leads all outfielders with 1,190,676.

Cabrera won the Triple Crown and the American League MVP award last year in a hotly contested race that saw Trout place second.

There’s still plenty of time for Trout to win this popularity contest; balloting concludes on July 11.

For the complete balloting results, click here.

Some more Monday bullet points:

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Angels’ Josh Hamilton is navigating his way through another bad back.

Josh Hamilton

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.”

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Daily Distractions: Josh Hamilton and Albert Pujols juxtaposed; rekindling Mike Trout vs. Miguel Cabrera.

Albert Pujols

Albert Pujols’ running can be painful to watch; lately his batting average has been suffering too. (Associated Press photo)

A visiting beat writer at Sunday’s game watched one of Albert Pujols‘ three strikeouts and marveled at what he saw. The swing-and-miss at strike three, down and away, simply wasn’t the same Pujols. In fact, it looked a little like Josh Hamilton did earlier this month.

Hamilton seems to be coming around, as I wrote in my game story yesterday. Pujols, who is batting .198 since April 21, does not.

Writes Joe Posnanski: “After years of being the best player in baseball, Pujols is now sort of beside the point.”

Mike Scioscia said something interesting after the game. I asked him if the Angels’ patience at the plate (they walked twice with the bases loaded and Hamilton averaged five pitches per at-bat) was evidence of a team that isn’t pressing as much, something Scioscia reprimanded his team for a couple nights earlier. His answer:

“I think we’re seeing some guys maybe use the whole field. As you try to get simpler, get more comfortable in the game, the things you talk about show up — you see the guys get in deeper counts, get a pitch, take a walk, hit the ball the other way, get better pitches to hit. Those things start to go in a positive direction. Hopefully he’ll keep taking strides toward it.”

Wait, who’s “he”?

I didn’t ask that because I didn’t catch Scioscia’s choice of pronouns until I listened to my tape after the game. But it isn’t hard to figure out — it’s Hamilton, who was hitting line drives to the opposite field, taking a walk, and going deeper into counts as if he was Mike Trout. Pujols was not.

For Pujols’ legacy, sure, we’re witnessing a turning point. As a key to the Angels’ success, it remains to be seen how long they can survive Pujols’ slump.

Some bullet points for a Monday morning:

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