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Angels' Josh Hamilton appears to be chewing tobacco again

ANGELS NOTES

Outfielder who has struggled with addiction quit the habit last July, leading to withdrawal symptoms.

July 02, 2013|By Mike DiGiovanna

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Josh Hamilton finished a workout with the team's strength and conditioning coach Tuesday afternoon, went into the Angels' dugout for some water, took a small wad of chewing tobacco out of his mouth and flung it to the floor.

Asked if he had resumed chewing tobacco after quitting last July — a move that led to withdrawal symptoms and may have contributed to his second-half slump with Texas — Hamilton said, "No comment."

This is a sensitive subject for Hamilton, whose well-chronicled addiction to cocaine and alcohol led to a three-year suspension from baseball from 2003-2005 and who has struggled with tobacco and caffeine use.

Hamilton has also struggled since signing a five-year, $125-million deal in December, hitting .223 with 10 home runs, 29 runs batted in and 81 strikeouts entering Tuesday night's game against the Cardinals.

But he showed signs of emerging from his slump last week when the Angels swept six games at Detroit and Houston, going nine for 21 with four doubles, four RBIs and four walks. During the trip, Hamilton could be seen in television closeups spitting black liquid during some at-bats.

Is there a correlation between Hamilton's surge and tobacco use?

"I don't know what you're talking about," Hamilton said. "It could be anything. It could be one of those protein bars. Is this really a story?"

Told it was in light of his struggles last season and last week's performance, Hamilton said, "Write what you see."

Hamilton hit .308 with 27 homers and 75 RBIs in the first half of 2012 but cooled in the second half, hitting .259 with 16 homers and 53 RBIs.

He quit chewing tobacco last July 25 and suffered subsequent vision problems caused by excessive caffeine consumption. He missed three games in Anaheim in September because of blurred vision.

"When I stopped dipping, I didn't realize I was drinking more coffee," Hamilton said last winter. "I'd have an energy drink before a game and a Mountain Dew after it. My caffeine intake went way up. I was overstimulated."

Cleaning up

Hamilton, who opened the season in the cleanup spot and was moved to the fifth, second and seventh spots, returned to the fourth spot Sunday and was there again Tuesday. Mark Trumbo, who leads the team with 18 home runs but is batting .167 since June 15, was dropped from cleanup to sixth.

"Josh is moving toward what we hope will be normal production from a player of his caliber," Manager Mike Scioscia said. "And we can take a little pressure off Mark, who's in a little bit of a rough patch."

Short hops

The Angels honored St. Louis Hall of Fame player Stan Musial by wearing No. 6 patches on their jerseys during the Cardinals series. Musial died in January. … The Angels officially put outfielder Peter Bourjos (right wrist fracture) on the disabled list Tuesday and called up recently signed outfielder Collin Cowgill from triple A. … Reliever Ryan Madson, who has had several setbacks in his return from Tommy John surgery, threw off a mound three times last week in Arizona and is gradually building arm strength in hopes of starting a minor league stint this summer.

mike.digiovanna@latimes.com

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