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Josh Hamilton goes 0 for 3 in spring debut

ANGELS FYI

Angels wouldn't mind seeing fewer strikeouts from the aggressive slugger, but Hamilton's style has been pretty successful.

February 26, 2013|By Bill Shaikin
  • Josh Hamilton went hitless in three at-bats in his Cactus League debut.
Josh Hamilton went hitless in three at-bats in his Cactus League debut. (Rich Pilling / Getty Images )

TEMPE, Ariz. — Josh Hamilton swung at the first pitch he saw as an Angel, and all of Texas appeared to snicker on Twitter: That's Hamilton for you — one pitch, one out.

In his next at-bat, Hamilton took the first pitch, and all of the Angels dugout appeared to snicker. When Angels hitting coach Jim Eppard asked Hamilton what he wanted to focus on this spring, he suggested plate discipline.

"It hasn't been too successful. I took that for him," Hamilton said. "It was actually a pretty good pitch to hit."

Hamilton went hitless in three at-bats in his Cactus League debut on Tuesday, in the Angels' 7-7 tie with the Arizona Diamondbacks. He brought out three bats for the game, broke them all and had to borrow one from Mark Trumbo to finish his last at-bat.

Eppard said he would like to see more walks and fewer strikeouts from Hamilton, whose 162 strikeouts for the Texas Rangers last season were the most of any player in the American League West. Still, Hamilton hit .285 and finished second in the AL in home runs (43), runs batted in (128) and slugging percentage (.577), so Manager Mike Scioscia won't force anything.

"What he did last year worked pretty good," Scioscia said. "If he wants to adjust from that, that's fine."

When he hit the first pitch last season, Hamilton batted .412 with a home run once every 10.8 at-bats; his overall ratio was once every 13.0 at-bats. His career numbers: .415 with a 11.4-to-1 home run ratio on the first pitch, .304 with a 17.5-to-1 ratio overall.

"You've got a better chance swinging at three strikes than one," Hamilton said.

Hamilton passed on a chance to pick the Angels or Rangers as the team to beat in the AL West.

"I've got to say Oakland, don't I?" he said. "They won last year."

Pranked

In a spring in which Peter Bourjos is trying to establish himself as the Angels' center fielder, he was horrified when his cellphone rang the other day — right in the middle of Scioscia's clubhouse meeting.

"I always turn it off," Bourjos said. "Somebody turned my phone on."

The caller was Dan Haren, the former Angels pitcher now with the Washington Nationals. Next thing Bourjos knew, the speaker was activated on his cellphone, and Scioscia and a clubhouse full of players were speaking with Haren.

In lieu of a fine, Bourjos said, he had to buy lunch for the clubhouse. He isn't sure who organized the prank but said he suspected Trumbo and Jered Weaver.

Said Trumbo, deadpan: "Could have been one of the catchers."

Short hops

Bourjos might find himself in line for more ribbing Wednesday, as one of five players set to participate in a ballpark photo shoot for the spring fashion issue of Men's Journal. The others: Ernesto Frieri, Howie Kendrick, C.J. Wilson and Garrett Richards. … Albert Pujols is about two weeks from his Cactus League debut, Scioscia said. Pujols, rehabilitating from knee surgery, remains on track for opening day. … Scioscia said third baseman Alberto Callaspo reported to camp 18 to 20 pounds above his playing weight. "He's trimmed it off," Scioscia said. "I don't think it was anything excessive."

bill.shaikin@latimes.com

Twitter: @BillShaikin

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