A slumping Josh Hamilton sat on Sunday, after his manager acknowledged how badly the Angels outfielder is struggling. "A mental break," Mike Scioscia called it, and Hamilton said he was the one who had asked for the day off. Well, Hamilton is out of the lineup again tonight.
Hamilton is hitting .266 with just eight home runs and 35 RBI, the latter two on pace to be career worsts. After Saturday's game against Texas, Scioscia said he was not planning to move Hamilton out of the cleanup spot, but that it was clear Hamilton had to do something to recapture the form he showed during his Rangers days.
"Josh is not the same that we saw when we were looking at the other dugout," Scioscia said. "He's not in the batter's box with the confidence we know he has. He's not attacking the ball like he can. He's working hard to try to find it …but we need him to do what he's capable of doing, or close to that."
Hamilton struck out seven times in the first two games of the series, and ahead of Sunday night's finale, approached Scioscia and asked to be benched for a game:
"Yeah, I asked 'could I have a day' because I felt like I was spinning my wheels and felt like I wasn't getting anywhere," Hamilton said. "So sometimes it's good to do that and take a step back."
"We're going to give him a mental break," Scioscia confirmed, "let him exhale a bit and see where we are."
After seeing where they are (Sunday's loss kept Anaheim in a tie with Oakland atop the AL West), Hamilton is sitting again. He is not in the starting lineup for Monday's game in Boston, and according to him, this time it was Mike Scioscia's call.
Scioscia says he expects Hamilton to be back in the lineup tomorrow, but a star player asking for one day off and sitting on the bench for two is a little weird. And Hamilton's no stranger to weirdness: he missed five games in 2012 after being diagnosed with blurred vision and balance issues, which he says were caused by his constant use of high-caffeine energy drinks. That same season, he blamed a second-half slump on his (ultimately unsuccessful) attempt to quit smokeless tobacco. Hamilton noted at the time that he had begun chewing tobacco at the same age he picked up his well-chronicled drug and alcohol addictions.