Angels drop Josh Hamilton to seventh in the lineup
As dreadful and frustrating as his season has been, Josh Hamilton has not snapped a bat in two over his knee after a strikeout, fired a helmet against a dugout wall after hitting into a double play or gone all Manny Pacquiao on a water cooler after a popout.
To fans angered by Hamilton’s feeble .213 average, 10 home runs, 24 runs batted in and 73 strikeouts entering Wednesday night’s game against Seattle — numbers that are hardly commensurate with the five-year, $125-million contract he signed in December — that’s a sign of indifference.
Not so, says Hamilton.
“If they don’t think I care, then they’re mistaken, because it hurts me more than it hurts anybody to not be performing,” Hamilton said Wednesday. “I’m not going to break my bat or do stuff like that on the field because you have kids watching.
“Players are different. Some wear their emotions on their sleeve, some break things, some go on a rage. Some guys just kind of sit and be quiet and try to just let that at-bat go and move on to the next one.”
Hamilton was the silent type Tuesday night after starring in his own version of “Eight Men Out,” a horror flick in which he grounded into three double plays and struck out twice — yes, that’s eight outs — in a 3-2, 10-inning loss to the Mariners.
The five-time All-Star, who hit .285 with 43 homers and 128 RBIs for Texas last season, sat in the Angels’ dugout alone long after the final pitch and declined to speak with reporters afterward.
The fallout from the worst game of Hamilton’s horrendous season came Wednesday night. Manager Mike Scioscia dropped the 2010 American League most valuable player from second to seventh in the order, a spot in which Hamilton had made only 19 starts, the last in 2009.
Hamilton, who has a .269 on-base percentage and .388 slugging percentage, opened the season in the cleanup spot. He was dropped to fifth April 30 and moved to second, between Mike Trout and Albert Pujols, on June 8.
“We’ve tried a lot of different things with Josh,” Scioscia said. “I think it’s going to be good for him to not worry about hitting in the middle of the lineup. Just go down there and play baseball for a little bit and find his stroke.”
Hamilton has always been a streaky hitter, and in the past, one good swing could trigger a monthlong hot streak. He has had some good games this season, hit a few home runs, driven the ball to the opposite field, worked some counts and drawn some walks, but he hasn’t been able to sustain any kind of groove.
“Sometimes you feel good for a game and the next game you don’t feel good — that’s the baffling part,” Hamilton said. “In the past, it’s either clicked at some point or you get a couple of bloop hits and start moving in the right direction. The biggest thing is being confident, and it’s tough to do when you’re not successful.
“After a couple of months, you’re like, ‘OK, it’s going to come any minute.’ But it’s hard. When you’re struggling and you stay in that spot when you feel like you’ve done about anything you can to get out of it, the confidence starts to waver some.”
Many fans have lost faith in Hamilton, as evidenced by the boos in Angel Stadium, which were as loud Tuesday night after his strikeouts in the seventh and ninth innings as they have been all season. Did they bother Hamilton?
“No, I’ve been hearing it all year,” he said. “I hate to say you get used to it, because it’s not something you want to get used to. But I can’t blame them. I feel like I’m giving them everything I have, but obviously the results aren’t there, so they have a right to do or say what they want.”
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