Josh Hamilton has picked up where he left off

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When Josh Hamilton went down after a fast start to the season, it just seemed like he and the Angels were snakebitten. He was turning it around after a lost 2013 season and the Angels, after two seasons of grand disappointment, were looking pretty respectable for once.

But a funny thing happened: the Angels continued to play well in Hamilton’s absence and in the six games since has returned, Hamilton has hit the ball as if he hadn’t missed a beat.

Hamilton went 2 for 4 with three RBI in the Angels’ 4-2 win over the White Sox yesterday, hitting an RBI double in the third inning and a two-run single in the fifth drove in two more. Since returning from the disabled list, Hamilton has gone 8 for 23 (.348) with five RBI in six games.

The two-month layoff seems to have done nothing to Hamilton’s red hot bat. And the Angels, though still trailing the A’s by four and a half games, are still looking pretty darn good. If the season ended today they’d be the top seed wild card. As it is not ending today, it is still worth noting that they seem just as well if not better set up as any of the other second place teams to remain strong contenders for a playoff spot.

Yasiel Puig was late to a workout on Monday, so Dave Roberts benched him

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Earlier, Craig wrote about how Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig is back in manager Dave Roberts’ doghouse once again. Puig didn’t slide into second base when he was caught stealing to end Saturday’s game, which irked Roberts.

Puig didn’t earn himself any brownie points on Monday as he was late to a team workout and was benched as a result, MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick reports. Roberts said, “That was a decision he made, not me.” Roberts added that he was disappointed in Puig, though he did note that the former All-Star’s behavior has been improved for most of the season.

Puig, 26, has had a solid season, batting .259/.339/.474 with 26 home runs, 70 RBI, 66 runs scored, and 15 stolen bases in 554 plate appearances. While he hasn’t provided value on the same level as Justin Turner or Corey Seager, he’s been a valuable part of the lineup which makes this drama all the more unfortunate with just a week and a half before the start of the NLDS.

MLB, MLBPA grant Pirates exemption for Jung Ho Kang to participate in Dominican Winter League

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Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that the Pirates were granted an exemption by Major League Baseball and the players’ union which will allow infielder Jung Ho Kang to participate in the Dominican Winter League without being removed from the restricted list.

Kang, 30, has been denied a visa by the Department of State as a result of his third DUI in South Korea last September. Kang was also under investigation in 2015 for alleged sexual assault.

Kang is under contract through the end of 2018 and the Pirates have a club option for the 2019 season as well, so it makes sense they would try to get him into some type of baseball action ahead of next season. The infielder has hit .273/.355/.483 in 837 plate appearances across two seasons in the majors. As Brink notes, Kang has already arrived to the Dominican Republic and will work out with his team, Aguilas Cibaenas, ahead of the start of the season on October 20.