For Los Angeles Angels right fielder Josh Hamilton, taking it one day at a time is nothing new. The slugger’s painful, public battle with addiction to alcohol and cocaine — and more recently, caffeine and chewing tobacco – have taught him to focus on the present. For much of this season, his professional struggles have been just as public as his personal difficulties. His batting average hit a nadir of .207 less than two weeks ago, and it seemed as though the Angels did not have the power-hitting RBI machine they had hoped for when they signed Hamilton in December.
In the Angels’ most recent run of success, however, Hamilton has come to life; he is currently riding a nine-game hitting streak in which he has gone 12-30 (.400) and, more importantly, he hit his first home run in 13 games on Thursday night, bringing some Fourth of July fireworks with a blast to center field. The homer tied the St. Louis Cardinals 5-5 and allowed the Angels to go on to win the game.
If Hamilton has taken abuse from fans this year, it is because his extremely affable bearing has given rise to the impression that he doesn’t care about his struggles or his profession. This is highly doubtful for a professional athlete of Hamilton’s stature, but his fight against addiction may also have put things in perspective for him. No matter how much he strikes out or grounds into double plays, he still has his health and his life, so why fret?
Whatever Hamilton’s mentality, manager Mike Scioscia and the Angels will encourage him to do whatever it is he’s done to recapture the old magic and raise his batting average 19 points in less than two weeks. Oh, and a few more of those home runs would be nice, too.
Tony Baker is a Los Angeles Angels blogger for Rant Sports. You can follow him on Twitter at @tonloc_baker.