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Angels' Josh Hamilton might not bat cleanup vs. left-handers

Angels' Josh Hamilton might not bat cleanup vs. left-handers
Angels outfielder Josh Hamilton may find himself in the middle of the lineup against lefties this season. (Ross D. Franklin / Associated Press)

TEMPE, Ariz. — Josh Hamilton bats fifth for the Angels on Thursday, against an opposing left-hander. As the regular season starts, that is where Hamilton might find himself in the lineup when the Angels face left-handers.

"We'll work around the middle of our order until it gets settled," Angels Manager Mike Scioscia said.

Hamilton, the Angels' $125-million cleanup hitter, batted .201 with a .596 OPS against left-handers last season, and .272 with an .802 OPS against right-handers.

David Freese, who batted .275 with an .811 OPS against left-handers last season, batted cleanup for the Angels on Wednesday.

Scioscia said he could "mix and match" Hamilton, Freese, Raul Ibanez and Howie Kendick in the middle of the Angels' lineup, behind Mike Trout and Albert Pujols. Scioscia did not rule out the possibility that Hamilton could emerge as the Angels' full-time cleanup hitter.

"When Josh is right, there's no doubt he can hit lefties also," Scioscia said.

In other news, the Angels are preparing to start the season with relievers Sean Burnett and Dane De La Rosa on the disabled list.

Burnett has not appeared in a Cactus League game. De La Rosa has not pitched since March 6 because of a strained right forearm. He has pitched 1 2/3 innings this spring, and will not return to Cactus League action until next week at the earliest.

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De La Rosa said he believed he could be ready for the March 31 opener, but Scioscia said the Angels would not be aggressive in pushing De La Rosa.

"We're certainly going to err on the side of caution," Scioscia said. "If it takes him an extra five, six, or seven days to get to where he needs to be, so be it."

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