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Angels' Don Baylor has big challenge of helping Josh Hamilton

Baylor, who was hired as the Angels' hitting coach Wednesday, will try to help former AL most valuable player Hamilton regain his swing.

October 18, 2013|By Mike DiGiovanna

One of Don Baylor's biggest challenges as the Angels' new hitting coach will be to help Josh Hamilton regain the swing that made him the American League's most valuable player in 2010 but deserted him for the first four months of 2013.

"One thing about my style is that we try something for a while, and if that doesn't work, we don't keep pounding our head against something that doesn't work," Baylor, 64, said in a conference call Thursday, a day after his hiring was announced. "I think he's a real key to the offense. We have to get him on that path to success. He's had it before. He just has to recapture it again and believe in his swing."

After signing a five-year, $125-million deal with the Angels last December, Hamilton, a five-time All-Star, hit .250 with 21 home runs, 79 runs batted in and 158 strikeouts — numbers that would have been far worse had he not hit .329 with five homers and 27 RBIs over his last 45 games.

"If guys think it's OK to strike out 120-130 times a year, that bothers me," Baylor said. "You can't start runners if guys strike out. That kills you. Put the ball in play, and something might happen."

Baylor, who signed a two-year contract with the Angels, played parts of 19 seasons in the big leagues, hitting .260 with 338 homers and 1,276 RBIs, and he was the 1979 AL MVP when he hit .296 with 36 homers and 139 RBIs for the Angels. He has also spent 22 seasons as a major league manager or coach.

"It's not just his knowledge of hitting — his presence is going to be very important for us," said Angels Manager Mike Scioscia. "I don't know if there's a guy who commands as much respect as Don does walking into a clubhouse or into a meeting with hitters. Everyone stands up and takes notice of what he's saying. That's one of the reasons we're excited about having him."

mike.digiovanna@latimes.com

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