Angels outfielder Josh Hamilton, striking out against Kansas City last… (John Sleezer / Kansas City…)
The Angels held Josh Hamilton out of their starting lineup Monday, the second time in 16 days they have given the struggling outfielder what Manager Mike Scioscia calls "a recharge day."
Hamilton is batting .216, the lowest average of any regular in the American League West. The Houston Astros started left-hander Erik Bedard on Monday; Hamilton is batting .169 against left-handers, with no home runs and 24 strikeouts in 59 at-bats.
"This is a half-step back that maybe gets him to take two steps forward," Scioscia said.
Scioscia said Hamilton would work with hitting coach Jim Eppard on Monday and would be back in the lineup Tuesday. The Angels face right-handed pitchers Tuesday and Wednesday.
Scioscia said he might consider benching Hamilton for several days at some future time, but not yet.
"I don't know if we're at the point where we're going to need three or four days off," Scioscia said.
Hamilton, in the first year of a five-year, $125-million contract, said "everything feels good" physically. He declined to say whether he thought the day off might get him on track.
"I'm learning not to say anything, unless I say it the way I want to say it," Hamilton said. "I plead the Fifth."
On Sunday, Hamilton said he never had struggled for such a lengthy period. He also said he believed he would rebound because he always had.
Mike Trout leads American League outfielders in the initial round of voting for the All-Star game. Trout could become the first Angels player elected to start since Vladimir Guerrero, who started in the AL outfield from 2004 to 2007.
Trout drew 1.2 million votes in the first ballot period, more than any AL player except Detroit Tigers third baseman Miguel Cabrera, the defending AL most valuable player, and New York Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano.
"It's awesome to be up there with the top guys," Trout said. "It's a pretty special feeling."
The starting outfield is made up of the top three vote-getters among outfielders — for now, Trout, the Baltimore Orioles' Adam Jones, and the Detroit Tigers' Torii Hunter, who mentored Trout when both were with the Angels last year.
"It would be pretty cool to see me and Torii out there," Trout said.
Hamilton attracted the most votes in All-Star history last year, as a member of the Texas Rangers. Hamilton's vote total this year ranks 10th among AL outfielders and 31st among all AL players, just behind Tigers infielder Omar Infante.
Angels first baseman Albert Pujols, who made the All-Star team in each of his final eight seasons with the St. Louis Cardinals, was not selected last season, his first in Anaheim. Pujols currently ranks fourth among first basemen, trailing the Orioles' Chris Davis, the Tigers' Prince Fielder, and Mike Napoli of the Boston Red Sox.
Reliever Garrett Richards said his sprained left ankle was "sore" Monday, one day after he injured the ankle while fielding a squeeze bunt. Doctors did not order an X-ray or MRI examination, Richards said, and he is expected to be available in a day or two. … Jason Vargas was named AL pitcher of the month for May. Vargas was 5-0 with a 2.30 earned-run average last month, 0-3 with a 4.85 ERA in April.