The Los Angeles Angels may finally be atop the AL West, but the team is still waiting for slugger Josh Hamilton to join the party and manager Mike Scioscia says his cleanup hitter is lacking in confidence and not the same man at the plate that he was with the Texas Rangers.
"Josh is not the same as he was when we were looking in the other dugout in Texas," Scioscia said prior to Saturday's 5-4 win over the Rangers. "Right now, he's not in the batter's box with the confidence that we know he has. He's working hard to try to find it."
A career .292 hitter, Hamilton is batting .266 with just eight home runs and 35 RBIs this season for Los Angeles. He hit a double in Saturday's victory, but it was just his second extra-base hit in the past 10 games.
Part of Hamilton's current woes at the plate could be tied to the nearly two months he spent on the disabled list this year with a torn ligament in his left thumb. Prior to the injury, which occurred in early April, he had been batting .444 with two homers.
Despite the lefty slugger's swoon, Scioscia said he's not inclined to move Hamilton down in the lineup.
"You move guys around if the whole product becomes better," Scioscia said Saturday. "If our whole lineup becomes better, you'd definitely consider it. But Mike [Trout] and Albert [Pujols] connected -- even though Mike's maybe not as hot as he was -- their dynamic is important. It works.
"Mike gets his pitches. And Albert gets his pitches, and that's what you're looking for from the middle of your lineup."
The Angels (72-49) are percentage points better than division rival Oakland (73-50) and hold sole possession of the AL West lead for the first time since 2011, the season before Hamilton signed a five-year, $125 million contract to head to Los Angeles.