The minute the Angels interest in Josh Hamilton was reported, people on Twitter and in the comments started in with stuff about how it’s bad for a drug addict/alcoholic to play in Los Angeles. This kind of thing:
This is a nonsense concern for a few reasons. Among them:
1. The Angels play in Anaheim, not some crash pad in the inner city or some burnout rock star’s home in Laurel Canyon. Disneyland is there for cryin’ out loud, and Hamilton will almost certainly live in some gated beach compound. He’s not exactly being dropped into a den of sin, here.
2. He played in Dallas for the past few years and Dallas, you may be shocked to hear, is a huge city with a lot of drugs and booze and things too;
3. His substance abuse trouble started back home in North Carolina and increased while he played in the Sally League and places like it. It’s not like he needed the bright lights and big city to tempt him.
4. As any addict can tell you — and as common sense instructs — you can get drugs or booze anyplace. Absolutely anyplace, from the biggest city to the smallest town in America. It’s not hard. The battle is not distancing yourself from them in a geographic sense. It’s about keeping them out of your personal space, both physically and mentally. Hamilton will battle addiction in L.A. like he did in Dallas and Cincinnati and Florida before that. He could be traded to Mars and he’ll have to fight it.
So yes, like Zack Greinke’s anxiety disorder we discussed this morning, Josh Hamilton in L.A. is an easy punchline or, at best, low-hanging analytical fruit. But it’s also pretty frickin’ beside the point, so just let it go, OK?
Angels’ right-handed reliever Bud Norris made his 23rd appearance of the season on Friday, and after just three pitches, he was done for the night. He worked a 2-1 count to Marlins’ Dee Gordon in the eighth inning, then promptly exited the field after experiencing some tightness in his right knee. Neither Norris nor manager Mike Scioscia believe the injury is cause for major concern, and the 32-year-old right-hander admitted that it may have had something to do with his lack of stretching before he took the mound. For now, he’s day-to-day with right knee soreness, with the hope that the issue doesn’t escalate over the next few days.
While the Angels are lucky to have avoided serious injury, they’ll need Norris to pitch at 100% if they want to stay competitive within the AL West. They currently sit a full nine games behind the league-leading Astros, and haven’t been helping their cause after taking five losses in their last eight games. Friday’s 8-5 finale marked their third consecutive loss of the week.
When healthy, Norris has been one of the better arms in the Angels’ bullpen. Through 23 2/3 innings, he’s pitched to a 2.66 ERA, 3.4 BB/9 and an outstanding 11.8 SO/9 in 23 outings. The righty hasn’t allowed a single run in four straight appearances, recording three saves and helping the club clinch four wins in that span. This is his second setback of the year after sustaining a partial fingernail tear on his pitching hand during spring training.
Max Scherzer is a force to be reckoned with. The Nationals’ right-hander delivered a season-high 13 strikeouts against the Padres on Friday, locking down his fifth win and his fourth double-digit strikeout performance of the year.
More remarkably, it was also the 53rd double-digit strikeout performance of Scherzer’s career, tying Clayton Kershaw for the most 10+ strikeout appearances by an active major league pitcher. Chris Sale is a distant third, with 43 to his name, though he’s been making considerable strides to catch up so far this spring.
Scherzer took the Padres to task on Friday night, whiffing 13 of 31 batters during his 108-pitch outing. He started strong, catching Allen Cordoba swinging on a 1-2 count to start the game and keeping the game scoreless until Ryan Schimpf unleashed a home run in the fourth inning. That was the first and final run the Padres managed off of Scherzer, who retired 14 consecutive batters following the blast and came one out shy of a complete game in the ninth inning. (Fittingly, Koda Glover polished off the win with a final strikeout, bringing the total to 14 on the night.)
It’ll take more than one stellar start to advance Scherzer and Kershaw on the all-time list, however. Their 53-game record ranks 13th, about 159 games behind second-place Hall of Fame hurler Randy Johnson and a full 162 games shy of the inimitable Nolan Ryan.