Josh Hamilton heads to Salt Lake City on rehab assignment

By Kyle Franzoni

It has been three years since Josh Hamilton last saw an at-bat at the Triple-A level. That said, it didn’t take him long to get re-acclimated to the thin air of the Pacific Coast League. In fact, it took Hamilton just two pitches to show that the torn ulnar collateral ligament in his thumb has healed and the rust is nonexistent.

In his first rehab game for the Salt Lake City Bees, Hamiton went 2 for 4 with a double. Out since April 9th with the thumb injury, Hamilton was excited to get back into the swing of things and experience live baseball again, as he told the Salt Lake Tribune.

"“It’s not an issue,” Hamilton reported. “It hasn’t been for a couple of weeks now. No soreness. No problem swinging, throwing or anything like that.”"

Hamilton’s injury came just eight games into the 2014 season, when he tore the tendon and capsule in his left thumb while diving into first base in the seventh inning of a game against the Seattle Mariners. Prior to the injury, the slugger was off to a solid start, slashing .444/.545/.741 with 2 home runs and 6 RBI during his first 33 plate appearances.

The plan is for Hamilton to remain in Salt Lake City both Friday and Saturday before returning to the Angels for Sunday’s series finale with the Kansas City Royals.

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At 26-20, the Angels sit 3.5 games behind the American League West leading Oakland Athletics. They’ll be getting Hamilton and Cole Calhoun (activated Wednesday) back at just the right time too, with the Angels heading on a inter-divisional road trip against the Seattle Mariners, Athletics, and Houston Astros.

Without Hamilton for most of the season the Angels have nonetheless remained productive at the plate, ranking 5th in the league in runs scored, 6th in home runs, and 6th in RBI. The additions of Calhoun and Hamilton will only strengthen a line-up that has been carried by Albert Pujols while seeing solid contributions by Collin Cowgill, Efren Navarro, and Grant Green in their absences.