MLB to stay out of Hamil­ton is­sue

Com­mis­sioner says he doesn’t be­lieve the An­gels did any­thing in­ap­pro­pri­ate in han­dling the case.

Los Angeles Times - - BASEBALL - By Mike Digio­vanna mike.digio­vanna@la­times.com Twit­ter: @MikeDiGio­vanna

SEAT­TLE — Com­mis­sioner Rob Manfred in­di­cated that he will not in­ves­ti­gate whether the An­gels re­leased con­fi­den­tial in­for­ma­tion about out­fielder Josh Hamil­ton.

“I have no rea­son to be­lieve the An­gels did any­thing in­ap­pro­pri­ate,” Manfred said dur­ing a visit to Safeco Field be­fore Wed­nes­day night’s game in which the An­gels de­feated the Seat­tle Mariners, 5-3.

An ar­bi­tra­tor ruled Fri­day that Hamil­ton, who had re­ported a re­lapse in his battle with sub­stance abuse, had not vi­o­lated his drugtreat­ment pro­gram and could not be dis­ci­plined by Manfred.

Un­der base­ball’s drug pro­gram, in­ves­ti­ga­tions into whether a player has vi­o­lated pol­icy are sup­posed to re­main con­fi­den­tial un­less and un­til a player is suspended.

Hamil­ton’s sit­u­a­tion be­came public knowl­edge af­ter The Times re­ported on Feb. 25 that he had met with MLB of­fi­cials in New York re­gard­ing “a dis­ci­plinary is­sue,” cit­ing “a per­son with di­rect knowl­edge of the sit­u­a­tion.”

An­gels Gen­eral Manager Jerry Dipoto con­firmed that Hamil­ton had gone to New York. CBS Sportsline and the New York Daily News — also cit­ing uniden­ti­fied sources — said the is­sue in­volved a co­caine and al­co­hol re­lapse.

Na­tional pun­dits blamed the An­gels for leak­ing in­for­ma­tion, with some cit­ing as their in­cen­tive the money they would save if Hamil­ton was suspended and had to for­feit a por­tion of his $25-mil­lion salary for 2015. But Manfred said he did not feel any pres­sure to in­ves­ti­gate the club.

“Con­fi­den­tial­ity is an im­por­tant com­po­nent of the drug pro­gram,” Manfred said. “Un­for­tu­nately, the more peo­ple that know about some­thing, the less likely it is that it’s go­ing to stay con­fi­den­tial.

“I think we will work hard go­ing for­ward to make sure we do ev­ery­thing we pos­si­bly can to re­tain the type of con­fi­den­tial­ity that has gen­er­ally been a hall­mark of our pro­gram.”

Manfred also ex­pressed con­fi­dence that the An­gels and Hamil­ton, who is re­ha­bil­i­tat­ing from right­shoul­der surgery in Hous­ton and has not been with the club, can mend a re­la­tion­ship that was strained by the re­lapse.

In the wake of the ar­bi­tra­tor’s rul­ing, Dipoto is­sued a state­ment say­ing the An­gels “have se­ri­ous con­cerns about Josh’s con­duct, health and be­hav­ior,” and team Pres­i­dent John Carpino said it “de­fies logic” that Hamil­ton’s be­hav­ior did not vi­o­late the drug pro­gram.

The com­ments came off as in­sen­si­tive to many who be­lieve that Hamil­ton, who over­came a har­row­ing ad­dic­tion to co­caine and al­co­hol to be­come a five-time All-Star with the Texas Rangers but has strug­gled in two sea­sons with the An­gels, should be treated with more com­pas­sion.

“Is­sues like the Hamil­ton sit­u­a­tion are dif­fi­cult for ev­ery­one in­volved,” Manfred said. “I’m sure the club and the player will find a way to work to­gether mov­ing for­ward. I don’t think it’s as se­ri­ous a prob­lem as it might ap­pear.”

Manfred would not say if Hamil­ton had en­tered a sub­stance-abuse re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion clinic, but he did say Hamil­ton is “in the pro­gram,” and added, “we have the very best doc­tors in­volved, and I hope it turns out to be a pos­i­tive re­sult.”

The An­gels have a six-game trip to Texas and Hous­ton next week with an off day Thurs­day be­fore the Hous­ton se­ries, giv­ing them am­ple time to meet with Hamil­ton to dis­cuss his in­jury re­hab and how he might be in­te­grated back into the lineup.

Manager Mike Scios­cia said that, as of Wed­nes­day, there was no plan to meet with Hamil­ton or for Hamil­ton to visit the club­house at Minute Maid Park. But he did not rule out the pos­si­bil­ity.

“He’s in Hous­ton, we’re go­ing to be there, so we’ll see if we can connect and see ex­actly where he is,” Scios­cia said. “Right now the most im­por­tant thing for Josh is to make sure he’s get­ting the help he needs, get­ting the sup­port. That’s where our con­cerns are. We’ll touch base with him.”

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