Angels Manager Mike Scioscia came away from a meeting with Josh Hamilton with a feeling of "frustration" that the outfielder is not getting enough help and support after suffering a substance abuse relapse that has triggered an ugly dispute with the team.
"We feel that there's really no clarity that he's getting the help he needs," Scioscia said in an interview with MLB Network Radio on Friday morning. "That's a major concern. Hopefully the frustration will start to evaporate as Josh gets through his first physical rehab of getting his shoulder where he needs to be."
Hamilton has been rehabilitating from a Feb. 4 surgery on his right shoulder in Houston and has not been with the team all season. The Angels had an off day in Houston on Thursday before opening a three-game series against the Astros on Friday night, and Scioscia said he was able to “catch up” with Hamilton.
Hamilton's physical recovery appears to be going well. He has been swinging a bat for several weeks.
“He had surgery about eight weeks ago, and it seems like he’s turned the corner on that and feels pretty good,” Scioscia said. “We have to see when he’s ready to get out on the field and play baseball.”
Hamilton, who has a long and well chronicled addiction to cocaine and alcohol, reported a relapse in early February, but an arbitrator ruled on April 3 that Hamilton did not violate baseball’s drug treatment program and could not be suspended.
Angels Owner Arte Moreno has taken a hard-line stance toward Hamilton, claiming the team included language in Hamilton’s contract that forbade him from drinking or using drugs and that it might challenge Hamilton’s ability to collect some of the $83 million left on his contract.
The players' union responded with a sharply worded statement saying such language had not been approved and that it would “not supersede the provisions of the joint drug agreement and/or the basic agreement.”
Hamilton was not issued a locker in the Angel Stadium clubhouse, and merchandise bearing his name and number has been pulled from stadium team stores.
Hamilton’s future with the Angels might eventually be determined by an arbitrator.
"It’s a unique situation," Scioscia said. "As an organization, first and foremost, we want to make sure Josh is getting the help and support he needs. That’s important for Josh to get back to where he needs to be and getting on the field and playing baseball. Things are open-ended, and there’s a natural frustration I think that goes with uncertainty, and that’s kind of what we’re dealing with."