Scios­cia gives ex­pla­na­tion on Hamil­ton

Manager says An­gels bosses’ ire was aimed at MLB’s drug pol­icy and not the out­fielder.

Los Angeles Times - - SPORTS - By Bill Shaikin


As the An­gels pre­pared to open their Ari­zona train­ing fa­cil­ity to Josh Hamil­ton, Manager Mike Scios­cia tried Tues­day to ex­plain that his bosses had crit­i­cized base­ball’s drug pol­icy, and not the trou­bled out­fielder him­self, when they ex­pressed out­rage at an ar­bi­tra­tor’s rul­ing that Hamil­ton could not be suspended af­ter a sub­stance-abuse re­lapse.

As The Times first re­ported Mon­day, the An­gels plan to send Hamil­ton to Ari­zona “sooner rather than later” to get him­self into base­ball shape. Scios­cia said Tues­day that Hamil­ton would re­port to Ari­zona “this week,” af­ter which Gen­eral Manager Jerry Dipoto said that timetable was “not ac­cu­rate” and that the team had “not yet determined spe­cific dates.”


who had shoul­der surgery in Fe­bru­ary, is ex­pected to work out in Ari­zona for two to three weeks. He would then begin a mi­nor league re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion as­sign­ment and could re­join the An­gels in early June.

“There is a lot of eval­u­at­ing that needs to take place, both on and off the field, with Josh,” Scios­cia said be­fore the An­gels de­feated the Oak­land Ath­let­ics, 14-1.

The manager said the An­gels would pro­vide Hamil­ton with “the sup­port and help he needs … as a per­son.”

Said Scios­cia: “That’s the first step to get­ting him pre­pared to come and play for us. I don’t know what form that help is go­ing to take, but it’s cer­tainly help that Josh is go­ing to need be­fore he’s out there play­ing on a base­ball field.”

Scios­cia did not elab­o­rate, and Dipoto de­clined to say whether the An­gels might ask Hamil­ton to join a drug re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion pro­gram. Such a re­quest could trig­ger a battle with the play­ers’ union, since the ar­bi­tra­tor that had the author­ity to rule whether Hamil­ton could be suspended also had the author­ity to send him into such a pro­gram.

Af­ter the ar­bi­tra­tor determined Hamil­ton’s self-re­ported re­lapse did not vi­o­late his treat­ment pro­to­col, An­gels Pres­i­dent John Carpino said the de­ci­sion “de­fies logic” and owner Arte Moreno point­edly de­clined to say Hamil­ton would play for the team again.

Scios­cia said those com­ments re­flected “frus­tra­tion” that the drug pol­icy did not man­date Hamil­ton seek help rather than dis­ap­point­ment that he was not suspended. Scios­cia said man­age­ment did not in­tend to sig­nal that Hamil­ton would not be wel­come to re­turn.

“I think our or­ga­ni­za­tion has al­ways had a player’s best in­ter­ests at heart,” Scios­cia said. “I don’t think whether there was a sus­pen­sion in­volved was the is­sue. The is­sue was ad­dress­ing the needs of a player, and to some ex­tent the bur­den is on us to get that done.”

Hamil­ton, whose re­lapse re­port­edly in­volved co­caine and al­co­hol, met with Scios­cia last week. The manager would not say whether he was aware of Hamil­ton re­ceiv­ing any help now, say­ing his con­ver­sa­tion with the out­fielder was pri­vate.

“This dis­ease is just hideous,” Scios­cia said. “It’s tough to deal with. There’s a lot of peo­ple that deal with it ev­ery day. We have to make sure Josh has the tools and the sup­port he needs to be able to deal with it and get back to do­ing what he wants to do, which is to play base­ball.” That the An­gels have in­vited Hamil­ton to re­sume work­outs at their fa­cil­i­ties does not guar­an­tee he will play for the team again. Moreno could try to en­force con­tract lan­guage he says would en­able him to walk away from Hamil­ton’s deal, although the union says Moreno has no such re­course and al­most cer­tainly would chal­lenge any such ef­fort.

Moreno could re­lease Hamil­ton and pay the $83 mil­lion re­main­ing on his con­tract, or the An­gels could try to trade him if an­other club would pick up even a small por­tion of the con­tract.

How­ever, if the voices in the An­gels club­house Mon­day and Tues­day are any in­di­ca­tion, the play­ers are ready to wel­come Hamil­ton back as one of their own.

“Every­body in here is go­ing to give him sup­port at ev­ery pos­si­ble level,” closer Hus­ton Street said.

“He wants to play some base­ball,” said third base­man David Freese. “Ob­vi­ously, there are a lot of im­por­tant things he needs to deal with, but I think he can do that as well as play base­ball. If we’re pro­gress­ing in the di­rec­tion that gets him back on the field, that’s great.

“The guys in here, we’re al­ways think­ing about him. I think every­body in here wants him to get on that field and get things go­ing.”

The An­gels are 6-8, but they are two games out of first place in the Amer­i­can League West.

“We are a base­ball team. We want to win,” Street said. “A healthy Josh Hamil­ton can help you win.”

Gina Fer­azzi Los An­ge­les Times

C.J. CRON of the An­gels beats the throw to catcher Josh Phe­g­ley of the Oak­land Ath­let­ics to score from sec­ond base on a sin­gle to left field by Johnny Gi­avotella in a six-run sixth in­ning.

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