The wait­ing game

An­gels still aren’t sure what will hap­pen with Hamil­ton, who might not have vi­o­lated drug pol­icy

Los Angeles Times - - SPORTS - By Bill Shaikin

The ar­bi­tra­tor em­pow­ered to de­cide whether Josh Hamil­ton vi­o­lated base­ball’s drug pol­icy has yet to is­sue his rul­ing, forc­ing Com­mis­sioner Rob Manfred to wait and see if he has the author­ity to dis­ci­pline Hamil­ton.

Hamil­ton re­ported a re­lapse in his battle with sub­stance abuse. If the ar­bi­tra­tor de­ter­mines Hamil­ton has not vi­o­lated his treat­ment pro­gram, Manfred would have no author­ity to sus­pend the An­gels out­fielder, and the mat­ter would be con­sid­ered closed un­der base­ball’s drug pol­icy.

The de­ci­sion from the ar­bi­tra­tor is ex­pected shortly, per­haps as soon as Fri­day. The pending na­ture of the de­ci­sion was con­firmed Thurs­day by two peo­ple familiar with the mat­ter but not au­tho­rized to dis­cuss it pub­licly.

In an in­ter­view with Sir­ius XM, Manfred said a de­ci­sion on dis­ci­pline prob­a­bly would come “shortly af­ter” open­ing day.

“I think that we’ll have some­thing

on Hamil­ton in rel­a­tively short or­der — prob­a­bly has been a lit­tle slower just be­cause he’s not avail­able to play,” Manfred said.

If the ar­bi­tra­tor rules that Hamil­ton vi­o­lated his treat­ment pro­gram, Manfred is be­lieved to be pre­pared to levy a sus­pen­sion soon there­after.

Hamil­ton is re­cov­er­ing from shoul­der surgery, and the An­gels did not is­sue him a locker in spring train­ing.

When the team re­turned to An­gel Sta­dium on Thurs­day, Hamil­ton’s locker had been given to in­fielder Johnny Gio­vatella — a move ex­plained by a club of­fi­cial as a way to ac­com­mo­date the ex­tra play­ers in town for the Free­way Se­ries against the Dodgers.

Hamil­ton met with base­ball of­fi­cials in New York on Feb. 25. As The Times re­ported March 4, a four-per­son treat­ment board — with two mem­bers ap­pointed by the com­mis­sioner’s of­fice and two by the play­ers’ union — had dead­locked on how to han­dle Hamil­ton’s case, ne­ces­si­tat­ing the ap­point­ment of the ar­bi­tra­tor.

Un­der base­ball’s drug pol­icy, a player can be found to have vi­o­lated a treat­ment pro­gram if he does not co­op­er­ate with the re­quire­ments of the pro­gram or tests pos­i­tive for a drug of abuse. The pol­icy is si­lent on whether a player can be judged to have vi­o­lated a treat­ment pro­gram if he re­ports a re­lapse, as Hamil­ton did.

The pol­icy also em­pow­ers the treat­ment board to con­sider the player’s test his­tory, his eval­u­a­tion by med­i­cal pro­fes­sion­als, and his will­ing­ness to con­sider “ad­di­tional treat­ment op­tions such as in­pa­tient ther­apy.”

Hamil­ton is known to have failed at least six drug tests as a mi­nor lea­guer in the Tampa Bay Rays or­ga­ni­za­tion, and he was suspended from base­ball from 2004 to ’06. He is not known to have failed any tests since then.

Hamil­ton is ex­pected to be on the dis­abled list un­til at least May. Time on the dis­abled list counts as time served on a sus­pen­sion, ac­cord­ing to base­ball’s drug pol­icy.

Hamil­ton is sched­uled to make $25 mil­lion this sea­son, the third of a five-year, $125-mil­lion con­tract.

If he is sent into a re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion pro­gram, he would be owed his full salary for 30 days, then half his salary for the next 30 days — a to­tal of $6.2 mil­lion. If he is suspended and not in treat­ment, he would not be paid. How­ever, it is un­clear whether the An­gels would have to pay Hamil­ton at all if he pre­vi­ously en­tered a re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion pro­gram that lasted at least 60 days.

Hamil­ton, 33, has bat­ted .255 with 31 home runs in his first two years in Ana­heim. His pri­mary re­place­ment in left field is ex­pected to be newly ac­quired Matt Joyce, with C.J. Cron and Collin Cowgill also get­ting at-bats that oth­er­wise would have gone to Hamil­ton.

“It’s go­ing to open up some op­por­tu­ni­ties,” Manager Mike Scios­cia said. “We’re deep enough on the of­fen­sive end we should be OK.”

Scios­cia de­clined to spec­u­late on Hamil­ton’s fu­ture be­fore a res­o­lu­tion of the is­sue with MLB.

“We’re go­ing to take it one step at a time,” Scios­cia said. “Josh isn’t ready to play base­ball right now. We’re kind of busi­ness as usual. You can’t an­swer ques­tions un­til you’re sure ex­actly what is go­ing to hap­pen.”

Luis Sinco Los An­ge­les Times

NO DE­CI­SION has been reached by MLB on a penalty for An­gels out­fielder Josh Hamil­ton.

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