Los Angeles Angels slugger Josh Hamilton may be facing discipline from MLB. One unnamed executive is claiming the issue as "worse" than Performance Enhancing Drugs. CBS Sports' Jon Heyman reported on his Twitter account that explains on more piece of this puzzle: Hamilton might have had a drug-related relapse. Accounting for his previous drug-related history between 2003 and 2005, this circumstance may be plausible. With Spring Training already begun and Opening Day right around the corner, who knows when Josh Hamilton will return?
Hamilton is already sidelined for 12 weeks rehabbing to repair the AC joint in his right shoulder, and will probably make his season debut sometime in May. He doesn't even have a locker at the Angel's Spring Training complex in Tempe, Arizona. For Angel fans, this feels like the last straw. But with 3 years, and $83 million dollars left on Hamilton's contract, he might be sticking around for a little while longer. So far, Hamilton has been a bust in Anaheim, hitting .255 with 31 home runs and 123 RBI's over two years. During his prime, Hamilton was capable of doing that, and more, in just a single season. Could his struggles at the plate influence his struggles controlling his dark past of drug abuse?
Angels GM Jerry Dipoto responded to the issue by stating, "I can say that Josh is going to meet with league officials in New York. At this point I have no other information to offer." According to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, "Hear Hamilton had relapse. Believe occurred a couple months back. Involved at least cocaine. Honorably, he confessed." He also reported, "There's no word of a failed test. Hamilton told MLB about the relapse. He'd be put in program as 1st time offender." Although there is no official confirmation, all signs point to a drug-related relapse. This heartbreaking news is a large bump in the road from his hard work returning to MLB and becoming a superstar. Hamilton is now on the other side of that plateau of super-stardom, and with his injury history and rapid decline, seems to be sharply accelerating towards rock bottom.
Luckily for Josh Hamilton, there is no confirmation of him failing any tests yet. This is a good sign for Angel fans, for there may not be an upcoming suspension. However, there are reports saying that Hamilton did use prohibited drugs earlier in the off-season. If that is the case, Hamilton will probably receive a short suspension for being a 1st time offender, but more evidence is needed. Speaking from a financial standpoint, the Angels need as much relief from Hamilton's contract as possible. With more money remaining in pure salary than Bronx anti-hero Alex Rodriguez, the Angels will have to hope for more production over the next three years or salary relief from a suspension (?) in order to justify their investment.
In conclusion, Hamilton is a mess. NBC Sports proposed, "If addiction is an illness, and it is, Josh Hamilton shouldn't be suspended." His future is uncertain, but one thing is for sure, he will never be that same slugger he was for the Texas Rangers. To be completely frank, the Los Angeles Angels do not need him. The Angels won 98 of 162 games last season, and Hamilton only played in 89. His injuries and mediocre batting totals affected his productivity in 2014, and new acquisition Matt Joyce will most likely be is replacement in left field in 2015. So the real question is, do the Angels actually need Josh Hamilton, and how badly do they want him back?
- Weston Robertson