Josh Hamilton’s teammates say he’s in great shape and ready to play

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The Angels are in Houston to play the Astros this weekend. Technically, Josh Hamilton is still a member of the Angels, even if the club is acting like he isn’t. Hamilton has met with manager Mike Scioscia and some of his Angels teammates. They are telling remarkably different stories about the condition Josh Hamilton’s condition is in.

Last night Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com reported that Mike Scioscia voiced concern over Hamilton, saying that there was “no clarity that [Hamilton is] getting the help he needs,” and that “[t]hat’s a major concern.”

Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times reports, however, that his teammates think Hamilton is in great shape. They say he’s recovered from both his shoulder surgery and whatever substance abuse issues he had. David Freese said that  “from what I hear and what I see, he’s kind of ready to go . . . He’s running, he’s hitting, he’s ready to go physically. He’s doing the things he needs to do to play baseball and taking the necessary steps off the field.” C.J. Wilson goes much further than that. Heck, he sounds like Hamilton’s lawyer or agent or something.

This is significant because, as been reported, owner Arte Moreno thinks he can either claw back money from Hamilton or void his deal altogether due to clauses in Hamilton’s contract. DiGiovanna reports that one possible clause relates to Hamilton not being in “first-class condition” because of substance abuse. Wilson and Freese’s comments make that sound like a hard, hard sell.

There are two sides to every story. Every contract has stuff even the people who have looked it over didn’t notice. All manner of things could be going on in the background which you, I, or anyone else not there, on the ground can know. But I’ll say this much: there has been nothing about this story whatsoever to date which makes Arte Moreno and the Angels’ stance regarding Hamilton seem reasonable. Not a single damn thing.

Battle of the Aces: Max Scherzer takes on Clayton Kershaw tonight

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I hope you don’t have any plans tonight at around 10PM Eastern time, because that’s when we get a pitching matchup for the ages as Max Scherzer will take on Clayton Kershaw at Dodger Stadium. When they meet tonight it will be the first time two pitchers with three or more Cy Young Awards have matched up since 2006. That year, and in 2005 and 2000, Roger Clemens faced Greg Maddux. In 2001 Clemens faced Pedro Martinez.

Kershaw won his hardware in 2011, 2013 and 2014, with an MVP award in 2014 to boot. Scherzer collected trophies in 2013, 2016 and 2017. Each has started the 2018 season in Cy Young form. Kershaw is 1-2, but that record is due to poor run support. He has a 1.73 ERA and has struck out 31 batters and has walked only three in 26 innings. Scherzer is 3-1 with a 1.33 ERA and a whopping 38 strikeouts to only 4 walks in 27 innings.

This will be the third time that Kershaw and Scherzer faced each other if you include the playoffs. The first meeting was a decade ago when both were rookies. They most recently faced off in Game 1 of the 2016 NLDS, way back when Scherzer only had one Cy Young Award to his credit. Kershaw beat Scherzer in that playoff game and the Dodgers beat Scherzer’s teams in the two regular season matchups, with neither guy setting the world on fire. As so often happens in baseball, the hype hasn’t been matched by reality.

Still, there’s always a chance it will. And even if, in the end, this turns into a slugfest, the first couple of innings should at least give us some hope of something good. I’ll be watching.