Slumping Angels outfielder Josh Hamilton needs 'mental break'

Angels outfielder Josh Hamilton will not play in Sunday against the Texas Rangers

Struggling slugger Josh Hamilton is not in the Angels lineup for Sunday’s series finale against the Texas Rangers in Globe Life Park, and Manager Mike Scioscia hedged when asked if Hamilton would return to the cleanup spot Monday night against the Boston Red Sox in Fenway Park.

“We’re going to give him a mental break, let him exhale a bit and see where we are,” Scioscia said. “But our lineup, long range, has him in the middle of it, and we need him.”

Hamilton is batting .132 (five for 38) with 18 strikeouts in his last 10 games, including a four-strikeout game in Texas on Friday night and a three-strikeout game Saturday night. He’s hitting .266 with eight homers, 35 runs batted in and 99 strikeouts in 72 games on the season.

“We need to get him back to where his confidence is where it should be and he’s attacking the ball the way he can in the batter’s box,” Scioscia said. “And right now, we think that just taking a step back today is good. Tomorrow, he’ll get back in there.”

Hamilton found his timing during a seven-game stretch from July 29 to Aug. 4, when he went nine for 31 (.290) with three homers and six RBIs, and Scioscia raved about how good he looked in batting practice and how much more comfortable he appeared in the batter’s box.

Hamilton has been in a tailspin ever since, and Scioscia isn’t quite sure why.

“That’s the $64,000 question,” Scioscia said. “Josh starts to find a comfort level in the box. You can see that he goes out there like he’s feeling his rhythm. There have been some periods here, particularly in the second half, where it looks like he’s putting it together.

“But this last week has been tough for him, and I think it’s just time to let him exhale a little bit. Hopefully it’s something that can be a quick fix. He’s just not playing with the same confidence that he’s had. … He knows when he’s right—we saw it for a number of years — he was one of the top five players in baseball.”

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