As the Los Angeles Angels are set to start their 2014 spring training this Friday, they will do it without outfielder Josh Hamilton for the first couple of weeks due to a strained calf muscle.
Hamilton suffered the injury during a baserunning drill on Tuesday and left the clubhouse later that day on crutches. The severity of the injury was not known at the time, but manager Mike Scioscia had described it as something that will keep him out of the lineup for a “minimum of a couple of weeks,” which in essence could be most, if not the entire spring training.
This temporary loss of Hamilton could have a huge effect on his start to the 2014 regular season as he is looking to rebound after a difficult first year with the team. The seven-year veteran had signed a five-year, $125 million contract with the Halos two offseasons ago, and his first full season was one to forget as he batted .250 with 21 home runs and 79 RBIs. That was significantly down from 2012 where he hit .285 with 43 home runs and 128 RBIs.
So with that in mind, the effect of Hamilton missing the first couple of weeks of the spring training could impact how his 2014 season will start.
He had a slow start to the 2013 season as he hit .204 with two home runs and nine RBIs through the first month of the year. What his early season struggles also did was cause Hamilton to press and do things out of his level of comfort, which led to long stretches of limited production from him.
This upcoming season has huge implications for Hamilton as a strong start could help carry him through the year and get back to being the middle of order power bat that he was with the Texas Rangers from 2010-12. He has demonstrated how important a good start to the 2014 regular season is to him by adding 28 pounds of muscle over the offseason so that he can be the player the Angels signed to a lucrative contract two years ago.
Ultimately, Hamilton missing a few weeks could have an impact on his start to the regular season or it could not. Nonetheless, the fact remains that he has suffered an injury that will keep him out of the lineup for a lengthy period of time and it should draw some level of concern from the Angels.