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Angels' Josh Hamilton injures thumb on ill-advised head-first slide

SEATTLE -- X-rays on Josh Hamilton’s left thumb, which he injured in a head-first slide into first base trying to beat out a seventh-inning grounder Tuesday night, were negative, but the Angels left fielder will undergo an MRI test on Wednesday to determine if there is any ligament or tendon damage.

“It hurts,” Hamilton said after the Angels’ 5-3 loss to the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field. “It stinks that it happened. I don’t know how many times I’ve done that before and this has never happened. I thought I jammed it a little bit, but it was more severe than I thought.”

Hamilton, who is off to a hot start with a .444 (12 for 27) average, two home runs and six runs batted in through eight games, remained in the game for two more innings defensively. But when the thumb swelled and Hamilton was unable to swing the bat aggressively, he told Manager Mike Scioscia he would be unable to hit.

After Albert Pujols and David Freese drew walks off Seattle closer Fernando Rodney to open the ninth, Ian Stewart, pinch-hitting for Hamilton, struck out. Howie Kendrick also struck out, and Raul Ibanez flied to left to end the game.

“Naturally, you’d like to have Josh up there in that situation,” Scioscia said. “But give Rodney credit. He got through it.”

Scioscia said he would prefer his players to stay on their feet and run through the first-base bag on grounders, but it’s difficult to prevent such an aggressive attempt in the heat of the moment.

“You know, he’s done it before, it’s part of his instinct to get to a base,” Scioscia said of Hamilton. “You kind of persuade your guys to stay on their feet and run through the base, but sometimes you react to a situation. It’s competitive nature, and Josh plays hard.”

Hamilton said his instincts simply took over on the play.

“I shouldn’t have done it, probably,” he said. “But I’m not going to say I wouldn’t do it again, because I’d be lying.”

If Hamilton has to go on the disabled list, the Angels would likely call up J.B. Shuck from triple-A Salt Lake to be their starting left fielder.

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