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Josh Hamilton doesn't start for Angels

Mike Scioscia calls it a 'recharge day' for the slumping outfielder, who comes into the game in the seventh inning and hits a single and scores.

May 18, 2013|By Mike DiGiovanna

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Angels Manager Mike Scioscia was engaged in a spirited discussion with several writers and broadcasters before Saturday's game about Josh Hamilton's brutal slump and what he could do to help the right fielder find his long-lost stroke.

The media consensus was that Hamilton, who has been batting fifth, would benefit from hitting between Mike Trout and Albert Pujols, a spot Torii Hunter thrived in last season.

The reason: With the speedy Trout on base and a respected threat like Pujols behind him, Hamilton, who has chased pitches outside the strike zone at a 42.3% clip according to Fangraphs, the fourth-worst O-swing rating in baseball, might see more fastballs and more pitches inside the strike zone.

About 45 minutes later, the Angels announced a lineup change involving Hamilton, but it wasn't the manager caving in to media pressure.

Hamilton, who is batting .214 with five home runs, 12 runs batted in and 48 strikeouts, was scratched, Scioscia giving him a "recharge day."

Scioscia said he has considered tinkering with the lineup, but no dramatic changes seem imminent.

"One reason to shake things up is for the shock value of putting guys in new neighborhoods and seeing how they'll respond," Scioscia said. "But if you believe in groupings, you have to give them enough time to work out. Is our offense struggling because of the way they're lined up or because of non-performance?"

Hamilton has been a shadow of the slugger who hit .285 with 43 home runs and 128 RBIs for Texas last season, chasing off-speed and breaking pitches and looking overmatched against many left-handers, though he did single to center field against left-hander Donnie Veal and scored after entering Saturday's game in the seventh inning.

"There's a balance," Scioscia said of Hamilton's approach. "Josh is an aggressive hitter who can hit off-speed pitches and fastballs; he just needs to get a better quality pitch to hit.

"He needs to key-hole a little more, square up pitches he's looking for and show plate discipline to lay off some pitches. These guys aren't machines. At times, there's going to be frustration, guys taken out of their game trying to do too much."

Rehab report

Reliever Kevin Jepsen, out since April 12 because of a shoulder strain, will begin a minor league rehabilitation stint with Class-A Inland Empire. The right-hander could be activated by the end of the week.

After throwing a four-inning, 60-pitch simulated game Friday, ace Jered Weaver will throw in the bullpen Sunday in advance of another simulated game or a minor league rehab start Wednesday.

Short hops

The Angels on Saturday claimed infielder Chris Nelson off waivers from the New York Yankees. Nelson, 27, who has spent parts of four big league seasons with Colorado and New York, will join the Angels on Sunday. To make room for him on the 40-man roster, outfielder Scott Cousins was designated for assignment.

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