ANAHEIM, Calif. — The night before, Josh Hamilton was a mess.
He knew something wasn’t right. The bright lights at Angel Stadium made him dizzy in the outfield. He was coughing and congested. He felt sick, out of sorts.
“I’m just off,” he said Tuesday afternoon, shaking his head.
But Tuesday night, after another day of medication to treat a sinus problem, Hamilton looked and felt rejuvenated. So did his bat.
He hasn’t had many nights like this since joining the Angels, but this is why they’re paying him $125 million over five years: He had one of four Angels home runs in a 6-2 win over the Kansas City Royals.
It was a small step for a player expected to take big strides. Hamilton is still hitting only .214, but he had three home runs in his past seven games after going just 4-for-23 in the Angels’ recent six-game road trip.
Manager Mike Scioscia put him in the designated hitter spot so Hamilton wouldn’t risk a dizzy spell playing the field, and it seemed to help. Besides his sixth-inning homer, which soared over the shrubs in center field and traveled an estimated 425 feet, he also drew a walk and lined out to shortstop. Monday night, he was 2-for-4 but had to leave the game after the sixth because of dizziness.
“We’ll take it day by day,” Scioscia said. “If he has to DH until he gets this sinus thing figured out, so be it.”
Hamilton isn’t blaming his dreadful start on his illness, but he has struggled to find a comfort level at the plate. His averaged has remained in the low .200s all season, and his hitting stroke has been either inconsistent or nonexistent.
On Tuesday, he sat in the video room and looked for some kind of hint that might give him a clue what he’s doing wrong. It’s possible he found it.
“I went back and looked at 2010, the end of May, early June, because I struggled the first month and a half there,” he said, referring to his time with the Texas Rangers. “I just went back and saw what kind of adjustment I made and tried to simulate that in BP today and the game tonight.
“It felt good.”
Asked what he found, Hamilton smiled and said, “Let me give it a few more days and see if it holds.”
He’s hoping for the same results for his sinuses, which have been an off-and-on issue throughout his career. He’s due for a visit to a doctor for some allergy tests, saying the Southern California climate might be the source of the problem.
But he refused to blame his poor start on whatever is ailing him.
“It has nothing to do with my .200 batting average,” he said. “I’ve felt bad plenty of times and done well. This has nothing to do with that. I’d say it’s more of being out in the field type of thing — run the bases, then go out on the field, combined with lights and all that stuff.”
As for Hamilton’s hitting, Scioscia said, “I think there’s no doubt that (with) his aggressiveness in the batter’s box, he’s attacking the ball better. Now he’s got to merge that with getting a good pitch to hit and not missing it. Some of that has to do with getting his swing clean, his comfort zone, his confidence. There’s a lot of buzzwords we could throw out there, but he needs to find that, and he will.”
Tuesday was a good start. It was also a sign of what the Angels can do offensively if they get all of their hitters in sync. Albert Pujols, Howie Kendrick and Mike Trout also went deep, and it was the first time this season Pujols and Hamilton homered in the same game.
“Those guys will eventually get going, and we need them to,” Scioscia said. “But it’s more than that.”
It is. It’s a lineup full of power hitters. But a lot depends on Hamilton.