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Angels' Josh Hamilton thanks Cincinnati fans

April 01, 2013|By Bill Shaikin

CINCINNATI — Angels outfielder Josh Hamilton, who had expressed curiosity about how he would be greeted in Cincinnati, received a warm ovation from fans here before the season opener between the Angels and Reds.

Angels first baseman Albert Pujols, who starred for the rival St. Louis Cardinals, was booed loudly.

Hamilton made his major league debut for the Reds on April 2, 2007, as a pinch-hitter. The Reds had acquired him four months earlier, in the Rule 5 draft.

Hamilton had grown up in North Carolina and had spent the previous seven years of his career in the Tampa Bay organization. When he made his debut, though, the Cincinnati crowd nonetheless saluted him, in recognition of the odyssey through drug abuse that nearly derailed his career.

“For the fans to stand and give me the ovation they did, it was special. It will always be special,” Hamilton said of that day. “I had nothing vested in the town or the team. It showed me a lot about the character of this town.”

Hamilton, starting his first season with the Angels, said he enjoyed the legendary goofiness of Manager Mike Scioscia’s daily spring training meetings. Hamilton said he even asked Scioscia if the fun would stop now that the season has started.

“You’re going to have fun,” Scioscia said.

“I’m going to hold you to it,” Hamilton said.

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