Scioscia: Expect big years from Pujols, Hamilton

Mike Scioscia expects a healthy Albert Pujols and a more

comfortable Josh Hamilton to be ready to lead a Los Angeles Angels

offensive resurgence.

Speaking at baseball’s winter meetings Wednesday, the Angels

manager said he thinks his two high-priced sluggers are ready to

rebound from difficult seasons.

Pujols had right knee surgery last spring and then missed the

final two months of the season with a partially torn plantar fascia

in his left foot. In the second year of a $240 million contract,

10-year contract, Pujols had career lows of 17 homers and 64 RBIs

in 99 games.

”Albert is, he’s swinging the bat. He’s taking batting

practice. He feels very strong physically,” Scioscia said. ”I

think that I really feel that he’s going to be the healthiest he’s

been, certainly from what he’s been out here with us, probably a

couple of years before that in St. Louis where he was banged up. I

think the foot will be a nonissue.”

If healthy, Pujols will be able to play most of his games at

first base, which helps the Angels’ defense, too, Scioscia

added.

Hamilton struggled in his first season of a $125 million,

five-year free-agent deal with the Angels. Coming off a year in

which he hit 43 homers and drove in 128 runs with Texas, he spent

much of the year looking lost at the plate as Los Angeles finished

had its first losing season since 2003 at 78-84. He batted .250

with 21 homers and 79 RBIs.

Hamilton bounced around all three outfield positions with Peter

Bourjos, Mike Trout, J.B. Shuck and Mark Trumbo. Now Trumbo and

Bourjos are gone and Scioscia has a more definite plan for

Hamilton.

”I think Josh is going to move back to left field and just stay

in left field. And I think he’ll be more comfortable with that

aspect as opposed to switching him to right field,” Scioscia said.

”But I do feel, from the way he finished up the second half of

last season and made some adjustments that he understands what his

role is a little more, what our team is about and what he can

bring. And Josh is going to have a big year for us next year.”