Mike Scioscia was the one voice of compassion from Angels management during the two-month-long Josh Hamilton saga.
While owner Arte Moreno, President John Carpino and General Manager Jerry Dipoto were highly critical of Hamilton after the outfielder suffered a substance-abuse relapse in February, the Angels’ manager stressed the need for Hamilton to “get the help he needs.”
But that support has its limits. Scioscia went on the offensive Tuesday before the game against the Oakland Athletics, criticizing Hamilton for not apologizing to Angels teammates during a news conference Monday to announce Hamilton’s trade to the Texas Rangers.
“Just hearing some of his comments, the one thing that I think is sad, and I’m a little bit disappointed in, is the fact that there wasn’t any accountability, most importantly, to his teammates,” Scioscia said of Hamilton, who was either injured or slumping for much of his two seasons in Anaheim.
“If you look at how much support he got when he was struggling, whatever was happening … no one ever questioned Josh’s work ethic and him wanting to play well. I know he got a lot of support from the guys in that clubhouse. For him not to show at least a little remorse toward his teammates I just think is wrong.”
Accountability was a point of contention between Moreno and Hamilton, who overcame a harrowing addiction to cocaine and alcohol to become a five-time All-Star with the Rangers from 2008-2012 but was a bust after signing a five-year, $125-million deal with the Angels.
“We understand he’s had struggles, but the reality is there’s accountability,” Moreno said after an arbitrator ruled on April 3 that Hamilton had not violated baseball’s drug-treatment program and could not be suspended. “When you make an agreement, you need to stand up.”
To which Hamilton replied, “I have no clue what he’s talking about. [Moreno] knew what the deal was when he signed me. He knew what the risks were.”
Scioscia also took exception to Hamilton’s claim that “a lot of my support system was kind of removed or pushed away, and other pieces were added, not all by my doing.”
The Angels hired Shayne Kelley as Hamilton’s full-time “accountability partner” in 2013, and Hamilton chose to downsize the role in 2014, using family friend Boyd Bassham on trips and leaning on his wife, Katie, when the team was home. The couple filed for a divorce in early February.
“His support unit was totally dictated by Josh and his management team,” Scioscia said. “I think we went above and beyond to make sure he had all the resources that he needed.”
The sentiment in the Angels’ clubhouse was one of happiness that Hamilton was reunited with the Rangers, even though the Angels will pay about $60 million of the remaining $80 million on Hamilton’s contract for him to play for a division rival.
“He was a friend, a teammate and a good guy, and I hope the best for him on the field and off,” right fielder Kole Calhoun said. “He’s in the best possible spot, and we can all just kind of go on and get back to baseball.”
Added reliever Joe Smith: “Josh as a person is way more important than the game of baseball. I wish him the best.”
Closer Huston Street acknowledged the awkward position the players have been in, trying to support a teammate and fellow union member while trying to win a championship for an owner who refused to issue Hamilton a locker in the clubhouse and ordered Hamilton merchandise pulled from team stores.
“It’s tough for us, because you want to show support for Josh, but you also play for the Angels organization,” Street said. “You respect that. You want to win games for your teammates and for the name across your chest.”
Street, who has been in negotiations with the Angels for weeks on a possible contract extension, said Moreno’s treatment of Hamilton and the subsequent trade has in no way dimmed his desire to sign with the team before becoming a free agent.
“I respect the way the Angels handled it,” Street said. “They had a position, and they stuck to that position. That was their belief. As the owner, that is your right.”
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