Josh Hamilton was not in the Angels lineup for a second straight game Monday night, but unlike Sunday, when the slumping slugger asked for the day off in Texas, this was Manager Mike Scioscia’s decision.
Scioscia said Hamilton will have an extensive early batting practice session with hitting coach Don Baylor and assistant hitting coach Dave Hansen in Fenway Park on Tuesday afternoon, and the plan is for Hamilton to play Tuesday night.
“We want to give him another day to reset,” Scioscia said before the opener of a four-game series against the Boston Red Sox. “We figured another day is going to be beneficial. He’ll go one on one with Don and Dave and hopefully find a comfortable concept in the batter’s box that he can take into the game.”
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.
He said over the weekend that he is physically sound and not feeling any ill effects from the surgery for the torn left-thumb ligament that sidelined him for most of April and May.
“I’m alright, but I don’t make the lineup, bro,” Hamilton said Monday. “I’m going to do some early work tomorrow and see how it goes. If I hit enough out, I’ll play.”
Hamilton asked for the day off Sunday because he “felt like I was spinning my wheels and not really getting anywhere,” he said. “Sometimes it’s good to do that, to take a step back.”
Scioscia said over the weekend that the Angels haven’t seen the “aggressive swings” that were Hamilton's trademark in Texas, where he won the 2010 American League most valuable player award and hit .285 with 43 homers and 128 RBIs in 2012, his last year with the Rangers.
Hamilton, in the second year of a five-year, $125-million contract with the Angels, said his issues are more mental than mechanical, that he’s been hurt more by a lack of confidence than a lack of power.
“I’m thinking about things too much, not playing the best I can,” Hamilton said. “When I get to the point where I’m doing it consistently, and I’m taking it to the field with me, I need to take a step back.”
Hamilton seemed to find 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, but he said it was “about three weeks ago” that his struggles began to go to his head.
“It weighs on you because you know what you’ve done in the past, you know you’ve been successful and done certain things,” Hamilton said. “And all of it is still there. But getting out of your own way, and allowing yourself to just let your talent play is where I’m trying to get to.”
Scioscia said the Angels remain confident that Hamilton will find his swing, but it seems doubtful Hamilton will remain in the cleanup spot when he returns to the lineup.
“I think it brings a lot of attention to what you’re trying to do when a guy you are counting on to hit in the middle of your lineup is struggling for a prolonged period of time,” Scioscia said.
“We have every confidence in Josh, and I know Josh does. He will find it, and he will contribute in a big way to what we need to do. Any concern would just be, I think, short term, trying to find a path that will get him where he needs to be. This guy is going to hit.”