<
>

Report: Angels outline tentative plan for Josh Hamilton to return

The Angels have outlined a plan under which embattled slugger Josh Hamilton could rejoin the team in early June, according to a Los Angeles Times report.

The Times, citing a source familiar with the team's plan, reported late Monday that Hamilton will participate in the Angels' extended spring training program for two to three weeks at their complex in Arizona.

Hamilton, who has been away from the team since self-reporting a relapse into substance abuse, would then begin a minor league rehabilitation assignment before potentially returning to the Angels, according to the report.

The source told the Times that Hamilton is expected to report to Arizona "sooner rather than later."

Hamilton recently met with Angels manager Mike Scioscia, who said the former American League MVP is making progress in his recovery from offseason shoulder surgery but admitted that he was unsure when the outfielder will be able to play again. It was the first time that Hamilton and Scioscia had met face-to-face in months.

The Angels' plan does not guarantee that Hamilton will play again for the Angels, according to the Times. Angels owner Arte Moreno said earlier this month that Hamilton's contract contains language protecting the team against a relapse by the five-time All-Star. Moreno acknowledged the team was exploring whether to use that protection, although he wasn't specific.

The Angels owe Hamilton $83 million for the final three seasons of a five-year, $125 million contract he signed after a stellar five seasons with the Texas Rangers from 2008 to 2012.

The Major League Baseball Players Association later denied Moreno's assertion about Hamilton's contract, and multiple Angels players, including Mike Trout and C.J. Wilson, have voiced their support for Hamilton over the past week.

According to the Times report, the players could be discouraged if the Angels, who are struggling offensively, were to part ways with a healthy Hamilton.

The Angels entered Tuesday with a .212 team batting average, the fifth-lowest in the majors. Matt Joyce and C.J. Cron, who have been the primary replacements for Hamilton in the lineup, are batting .167 and .129, respectively, and they have combined for one home run and seven RBIs.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.