Things are ugly between the Angels and Josh Hamilton right now, but manager Mike Scioscia told Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times today that he hopes to have a “face-to-face” meeting with the embattled outfielder while the team is in Houston later this week for a series against the Astros.
An arbitrator ruled that Hamilton will not be punished for his recent drug relapse, but Angels owner Arte Moreno recently refused to say whether he’ll play for the team again and even indicated that they could attempt to recoup some of his salary. However, Scioscia only appears concerned about his well-being:
“Everyone’s been in touch with Josh,” Scioscia said. “The concern is that Josh is getting the help and support he needs right now. That’s first and foremost.”
DiGiovanna was told by a team official that Hamilton hasn’t reached out about visiting the team at Minute Maid Park. Scioscia isn’t sure if any other coaches or players will join him if the meeting occurs away from the stadium.
Hamilton, who is currently working his way back from February shoulder surgery, is owed $83 million from 2015-2017.
The Angels have taken a fair amount of criticism after GM Jerry DiPoto made a public statement critical of outfielder Josh Hamilton for his drug relapse and owner Arte Moreno threatened contractual action. DiPoto’s statement in particular didn’t sit well with Hamilton’s teammates, specifically pitcher C.J. Wilson, who is also the Angels’ union representative. Wilson was the only player willing to go on the record with criticism, saying DiPoto’s criticsm was “kind of disheartening”.
Wilson spoke more about the situation before Saturday night’s game against the Royals. Per Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times, Wilson said, “It doesn’t seem like any bridges are being built — it seems like a fairly contentious situation.”
Discussing how teams have used language in contracts to govern players’ off-the-field activities, Wilson said that the Angels hired a private investigator to follow him after signing him to a five-year, $77.5 million contract in December 2011. Wilson said the Angels didn’t like that he rode motorcycles, and noted that his contract includes restrictions on “a bevy of things” including motorcycle riding, auto racing, spelunking, and cave exploration.
When told of Wilson’s assertion about the private investigator, DiPoto responded by saying, “That is 100% not true.”
Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times tweeted out this interesting observation Saturday from Angel Stadium, just before the Angels’ second home game of the 2015 regular season …
Hamilton jerseys probably wouldn’t be a hot item right now after his performance in 2014 and offseason relapse, so this could be chalked up to a simple supply-and-demand strategy. But it feels more calculated than that given recent comments from Angels owner Arte Moreno. DiGiovanna published a lengthy piece Saturday morning examining how awkward all of this has been for players in the Angels’ clubhouse who consider Hamilton a friend but are hearing anti-Hamilton sentiment from the guy who signs their paychecks.
Anaheim owes the 33-year-old $25.4 million this year and a combined $64.8 million in 2016-2017.
It was ruled last week that Josh Hamilton will receive no discipline after his recent drug relapse. The Angels released a statement in the wake of the decision to express their disappointment, which sure sounded like a team who was upset that they still had to pay him. Angels owner Arte Moreno stepped up the rhetoric last night by refusing to say whether Hamilton would play for the team again and even indicated that the team could look at language in his contract to get some salary relief.
Craig Calcaterra reported last night that Hamilton’s contract doesn’t include the language that Moreno specified, so the Angels might not have much in the way of recourse, but this situation is getting uglier by the second. C.J. Wilson, the Angels player representative with the MLBPA and a teammate of Hamilton dating back to their time in Texas, isn’t pleased with how it’s being handled by his team:
Wilson is speaking some serious truths here. Hamilton has underperformed in his contract with the Angels until this point, but chances are they would be much more supportive of his situation if he was still producing at an MVP level. It’s shameful, but predictable. The 33-year-old Hamilton is still owed $83 million through 2017.
Check out Wilson’s full comments here.
Earlier this evening Angels owner Arte Moreno told Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times that the Angels have language in Josh Hamilton’s contract regarding a drug relapse and the club may try to enforce it, suggesting that they’ll claw back money, void his deal or something in that vein.
I’m not sure what Moreno is on about here, but I spoke with a source familiar with Josh Hamilton’s contract this evening who tells me that Hamilton’s contract has language regarding substance abuse that is no different than that contained in Albert Pujols’ deal, Mike Trout’s deal and every other Angels’ player’s deal. Specifically, boilerplate about banned substances that are all subservient to that which is contained in the Joint Drug Agreement and Collective Bargaining Agreement. There are no special riders or provisions specific to Josh Hamilton or his drug history. To the extent Moreno is claiming otherwise, he is wrong.
It’s possible that this boilerplate is giving Moreno hope, but it’s likely no different than the general “good citizen” language in players’ contracts which people sometimes claim would allow a team to void a deal based on off-the-field conduct, but which those inside the game know would never fly with an arbitrator.
Everything coming from the Angels’ camp since the Josh Hamilton news broke has appeared to be nothing short of a public temper tantrum. This appears to be much of the same.
UPDATE: The union says just as much: