Josh Hamilton didn’t hesitate Sunday when asked to list his personal expectations for 2015.
“I’m going to say .300, 30 and 100,” the Angels left fielder said, referring to average, home runs and runs batted in. “Keep it simple. Those are very attainable.”
They were in Texas, when Hamilton hit .305 and averaged 28 homers and 101 RBIs in five seasons (2008-2012) and won American League most valuable player honors in 2010. They’ve been far out of reach in Anaheim, where Hamilton has struggled since signing a five-year, $125-million deal.
Hamilton, 33, slumped to a .250 average, 21 homers, 79 RBIs and 158 strikeouts in 2013, and he hit .263 with 10 homers and 44 RBIs during an injury-riddled 2014.
After missing almost all of September because of right-shoulder and rib-cage injuries, Hamilton declared himself fit for the playoffs, where he went hitless -- often looking overmatched -- in 13 at-bats in a three-game division series sweep at the hands of the Kansas City Royals.
TBS commentator Gary Sheffield ripped Hamilton for his “bad body language,” and fans booed Hamilton at Angel Stadium. Hamilton caught more flak as he cleaned out his locker after the season, telling the Orange County Register, “We don’t necessarily play for the people in the stands. We play for each other.”
Hamilton, who was in Anaheim on Sunday to bowl in Eddie Guardado’s “Stars and Strikes” fundraiser to help children with autism, softened his stance toward the fans.
“Obviously, we love fans coming out, we love the support, they pay our salaries,” Hamilton said. “If it was taken the wrong way, I don’t want it to be, because we do benefit from and are blessed tremendously by their support. I want to do good for them.”
The Angels need more production from Hamilton this season if they are to absorb the loss of second baseman and September cleanup batter Howie Kendrick, who was traded to the Dodgers for top pitching prospect Andrew Heaney.
“The last couple of years have not been good at all,” Hamilton said. “You’re always looking to improve, and I’m looking to improve a lot more. I can’t focus on the last two years because I want to be positive.”
Hamilton, who missed much of last April and May because of a torn left-thumb ligament, took three extra weeks off to give his body time to heal. He’s been hitting in Angel Stadium, and after tinkering with his swing mechanics in 2014, he said he’ll keep his front toe-tap because “it feels comfortable, natural.”
Hamilton also hopes to benefit from a six-week reunion with Johnny Narron, his former “accountability partner” in Texas who was hired to be the Angels’ triple-A hitting coach.
Narron, who has known Hamilton since he was a child, will be in Tempe, Ariz., for spring training, working with major league hitting coaches Don Baylor and Dave Hansen.
“He’s someone I’m comfortable with, and he’ll fit in good,” Hamilton said. “You get a quality six weeks with a bunch of guys who know a lot about hitting, whose brains you can pick. And having somebody who’s seen you since you were 7 or 8 years old, it can’t do anything but help.”