Hamil­ton con­tract may lead to a battle

Moreno won’t guar­an­tee that out­fielder will re­turn to the An­gels af­ter ad­mit­ting a re­lapse.

Los Angeles Times - - SPORTS - By Bill Shaikin

An­gels owner Arte Moreno sig­naled Fri­day he might chal­lenge out­fielder Josh Hamil­ton’s abil­ity to col­lect his full salary, an ef­fort that would trig­ger a heated battle with the play­ers’ union and could wind up in an ar­bi­tra­tion hear­ing.

Moreno point­edly de­clined to say that Hamil­ton would play an­other game for the An­gels.

“I will not say that,” Moreno said be­fore the An­gels’ home opener, a 4-2 loss to the Kansas City Roy­als.

A griev­ance hear­ing could be the pre­cur­sor to a set­tle­ment that would end Hamil­ton’s ten­ure in Ana­heim.

When the An­gels signed Hamil­ton in 2012 — six years af­ter base­ball had re­in­stated him fol­low­ing a two-year sus­pen­sion for drug and al­co­hol abuse — Moreno said the An­gels had not in­serted ad­di­tional lan­guage to pro­tect the team

against a re­lapse. An ar­bi­tra­tor ruled last week that Hamil­ton, who re­ported a re­lapse last win­ter, had not vi­o­lated base­ball’s drug pol­icy and thus could not be suspended.

How­ever, on Fri­day, Moreno said the team in­deed had in­cluded such lan­guage and had it ap­proved by Hamil­ton, the league and the union. Moreno also said the con­tracts of other An­gels play­ers had sim­i­lar pro­vi­sions.

“We have a con­tract with Hamil­ton and that con­tract has spe­cific lan­guage, that he signed and that was ap­proved, that said he could not drink or use drugs,” Moreno said.

Moreno said he is ex­plor­ing whether to en­force that lan­guage.

“There is the pos­si­bil­ity of pur­su­ing it,” he said.

The Ma­jor League Base­ball Play­ers Assn. said such lan­guage had not been ap­proved and in any case could not over­ride base­ball’s bar­gain­ing agree­ments.

“The MLBPA em­phat­i­cally de­nies … Arte Moreno’s as­ser­tions … that the An­gels had re­quested and re­ceived the ap­proval of the union to in­sert lan­guage into Josh Hamil­ton’s con­tract that would su­per­sede the pro­vi­sions of the Joint Drug Agree­ment and/or the Ba­sic Agree­ment,” the MLBPA said in a state­ment.

“To the con­trary, the col­lec­tively bar­gained pro­vi­sions of the JDA and the Ba­sic Agree­ment su­per­sede all other player con­tract pro­vi­sions and ex­plic­itly pre­vent Clubs from ex­actly the type of ac­tion Mr. Moreno al­luded to.”

The An­gels owe Hamil­ton $83 mil­lion through 2017. Moreno dis­missed the cho­rus of na­tional crit­ics who at­trib­uted the team’s dis­ap­point­ment in last week’s ar­bi­tra­tion rul­ing as frus­tra­tion over the team’s ap­par­ent in­abil­ity to void at least part of the con­tract, which would re­sult in mil­lions of dol­lars in sav­ings.

“It was not about money,” Moreno said. “Noth­ing about money.”

The An­gels did not in­vite Hamil­ton for the home opener. The other three play­ers on the dis­abled list joined the team and par­tic­i­pated in uni­form — in­clud­ing pitcher Tyler Skaggs, who is out for the sea­son.

The An­gels also have not pro­vided Hamil­ton a locker in their club­house, as they have for the other in­jured play­ers.

Moreno said he has not spo­ken to Hamil­ton since the out­fielder re­ported his re­lapse to the league. Hamil­ton met with league of­fi­cials in New York on Feb. 25.

Moreno said he was “dis­ap­pointed” in Hamil­ton.

“More than any­thing, we look at ac­count­abil­ity,” Moreno said. “With all of our play­ers and all of our em­ploy­ees, we look for ac­count­abil­ity.

“We un­der­stand he’s had trou­bles and he’s still hav­ing trou­bles. But the re­al­ity is, there is ac­count­abil­ity when you make an agree­ment.”

Hamil­ton, 33, the Amer­i­can League most valu­able player in 2010, signed a fiveyear, $125-mil­lion con­tract with the An­gels af­ter the 2012 sea­son. In his first two years in Ana­heim, each marred by in­jury, he hit .255 with 31 home runs.

Hamil­ton is re­ha­bil­i­tat­ing an in­jured shoul­der in Hous­ton, ac­cord­ing to the An­gels. He is not ex­pected to be ready to play un­til at least May.

Gina Fer­azzi Los An­ge­les Times

AL­BERT PU­JOLS tosses his hel­met and bat­ting gloves af­ter strik­ing out in the fourth in­ning against the Roy­als.

Gina Fer­azzi Los An­ge­les Times

COLLIN COWGILL , left, goes down the line get­ting high-fives dur­ing in­tro­duc­tions be­fore the An­gels’ home opener against the Roy­als.

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