On Wednesday the Los Angeles Angels received news that an MRI on outfielder Josh Hamilton‘s left thumb has a torn ligament that will require surgery and force him to miss the next 6-8 weeks, but it may not be as bad as it initially sounds.
With Hamilton out of the lineup for the next couple of months, the Angels have chosen to move their offseason acquisition in third baseman David Freese into the No. 4 spot in the batting order. Since starting the season off batting .100 (1-10) through the first three games played, the 30-year-old has picked up his production. He has collected hits in three of his last four games played which includes one home run with three RBIs, and four runs scored over that span.
With his level of play beginning to take shape, Los Angeles will need Freese to continue to drive in runs in the cleanup spot behind Mike Trout and Albert Pujols. This may be a tall task to ask for of the five-year veteran, but he has shown in the past that he can be a reliable bat in the lineup as evident by his breakout 2012 season where he had career highs in home runs (20), RBIs (79), hits (147), runs (70), walks (57), on-base percentage (.372) and slugging percentage (.467).
Although Freese took a step back in his overall performance last season due to lingering back and leg injuries, he was still able to drive in 60 runs and hit a career-best 26 doubles in 138 games played. It is a lot to ask from him in his first season with the Halos, but if the team did not believe that he could do it they would not have made the decision to trade for him this past offseason.
This is a prime opportunity for Freese to take advantage of as Trout and Pujols will give him plenty of chances to drive in runs and see better pitches with them in front of him in the lineup. It will ultimately fall on the former World Series MVP to step up and produce.