Josh Hamilton can’t hack it in first game in weeks

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Making his first appearance since Sept. 16 — and just his second since Sept. 4 — Josh Hamilton, returning from shoulder, chest and rib cage injuries, went 0-for-5 in Thursday’s 3-2 loss to the Royals, four times getting retired by left-handed pitchers. He popped up to third base to end the game in the 11th.

In both the seventh and ninth innings, the Angels worked to set things up for Hamilton; the leadoff man got on and Erick Aybar bunted him over both times, even though there was a left-handed pitcher on the mound. In the seventh, Hamilton hit a routine grounder off rookie Brandon Finnegan. In the ninth, he struck out in a poor at-bat versus Tim Collins.

Manager Mike Scioscia was due to face questions afterwards whether starting Hamilton was the right call. This was actually a pretty good matchup for Hamilton, though; not only did he hit .330 in 91 at-bats against lefties during the regular season, but he had three career homers in 27 at-bats against Royals starter Jason Vargas (albeit with a .222 average). If Hamilton was going to play during the series, then there was no reason not to use him tonight.

Tonight was the lesser question, though. The bigger one is whether Hamilton should be playing at all. We’ll get a better read on that Friday when he faces flamethrowing Yordano Ventura. If Hamilton is overmatched, the Angels should strongly consider trying something different in left field in Game 3, which would probably mean playing Efren Navarro.

Gallegos agrees to 2-year, $11M contract with Cardinals

Atlanta Braves v St. Louis Cardinals
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ST. LOUIS – Reliever Giovanny Gallegos and the St. Louis Cardinals agreed to a two-year, $11 million contract, a deal that includes a club option for 2025 and escalators that could make it worth $20.5 million over three seasons.

The 31-year-old right-hander is 3-5 with a 2.91 ERA and 14 saves in 20 chances this season. He has 72 strikeouts and 15 walks in 58 2/3 innings.

“I feel so happy,” Gallegos said before the Cardinals played the Pirates in Pittsburgh. “I don’t have the word for exactly how I’m feeling.”

He was obtained from the Yankees in July 2018 along with left-hander Chasen Shreve in the trade that sent first baseman Luke Voit to New York. Gallegos is 14-15 with a 3.02 ERA and 34 saves in six major league seasons.

Gallegos gets a $500,000 signing bonus and salaries of $4.5 million next year and $5.5 million in 2024. St. Louis has a $6.5 million team option for 2025 with a $500,000 buyout.

His 2025 option price can increase by up to $3.5 million for games finished in 2024: $500,000 each for 20-25 and 26-30 and 31-35, and $1 million apiece for 36-40 and 41 or more.

He would get $250,000 for winning the Rivera/Hoffman reliever of the year award, $50,000 for All-Star selection and World Series MVP and $25,000 for League Championship Series MVP.

Gallegos has a $2.41 million salary this year.

He was eligible for salary arbitration and is potentially eligible for free agency after the 2024 season.