MLB players union rips leaks on Josh Hamilton’s issues

Angels outfielder Josh Hamilton is awaiting word from MLB officials about possible discipline.

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The Major League Baseball Players Association is furious about information leaks surrounding Los Angeles Angels outfielder Josh Hamilton.

In a statement Thursday, the union said the anonymous leaks about Hamilton’s situation "are cowardly, undermine the integrity of our collectively bargained agreements and in some instances have been wholly inaccurate."

The union also spoke out in Hamilton’s defense, saying it will "use every right we have under the collective bargaining agreement to make sure Josh gets the help he needs, and the fair and confidential process to which he is entitled."

Many media outlets have reported that Hamilton, whose substance abuse problems have been well-documented for years, had a recent relapse involving cocaine and alcohol.

The union said the information has been leaked by "people who want to see Josh Hamilton hurt personally and professionally."

The Angels have confirmed Hamilton met with baseball officials in New York last week. They’re waiting to learn of any disciplinary ruling against Hamilton, who wasn’t planning to participate in spring training while recovering from recent surgery on his shoulder.

The Los Angeles Times reported Wednesday that an arbitrator will decide whether Hamilton should enter a substance-abuse rehab program after a four-member advisory board couldn’t decide Hamilton’s next step. That report appeared to anger the union, which issued its statement the next day.

Players can be paid their full salaries for their first 30 days in rehab, and half of their salary during the second 30 days of a program. The Times also reported that baseball officials haven’t decided whether to classify Hamilton as a four-time violator of the sport’s drug policy, which could lead to a lengthy suspension.

Hamilton is entering the third season of a five-year, $125 million contract with the Angels. He has been a disappointment in Orange County, managing just 31 homers and 123 RBI in two injury-affected seasons.