C.J. Wilson: Angels’ statement on Josh Hamilton is ‘disheartening’

An arbitrator ruled Friday that Josh Hamilton cannot be suspended by Major League Baseball.

It was a unique decision, one the Angels didn’t agree with. Angels general manager Jerry DiPoto issued a statement Friday morning: "… The Angels have serious concerns about Josh’s conduct, health and behavior and we are disappointed that he has broken an important commitment which he made to himself, his family, his teammates and our fans. We are going to do everything possible to assure he receives proper help for himself and for the well-being of his family."

Hamilton’s friend and former teammate with the Rangers, C.J. Wilson, has been talking with Hamilton, who is rehabilitating his shoulder in Houston. 

Wilson hadn’t yet talked to Hamilton on Friday when the clubhouse was open to the media.

Wilson called the statement "disheartening," but went on to say "the statement had multiple phases, and I’m just going to focus on the last part of it, which was we are concerned with what’s best for Josh and his family. That’s the part I agree with. That’s the first thing I said when this came out."

It’s unclear when Hamilton can return to the Angels, but there’s no more waiting for a ruling from MLB. Now the timetable depends on Hamilton’s shoulder. He had surgery Feb. 4, and there was an original timeframe of 4-6 weeks, but soon after that was lengthened to an unknown timeframe.

Hamilton has begun swinging a bat, according to Dipoto.

"He’s been hitting for quite some time now, taking multiple 100 swings a day in his preparation," Dipoto said. "Where he is in terms of baseball preparedness is still a question. We’re going to have to sort through that. That’s going to be the question that determines whether he gets back on the field sooner rather than later."

Asked what he needs to see from Hamilton, both on and off the field for a return, Dipoto said:

"He’s recovering from shoulder surgery first and foremost. I’m not going to go much further than that. We need to see a healthy shoulder before we can take the next step in any regard."

Hamilton, who is in the third year of a five-year, $125 million deal, was not at spring training, nor is he here at Angel Stadium. 

Manager Mike Scioscia again expressed concern for Hamilton’s well-being and said he’s OK with him rehabilitating somewhere other than Anaheim if that’s where he’s comfortable. Scioscia, however, is not concerned over how Hamilton — who’s well-liked by teammates — will fit back into the clubhouse when he returns.

"We’re not even to that bridge yet," Scioscia said. "The guys in our room are a very close group. They respect the bond of a teammate. I don’t think that will be an issue."

Said Albert Pujols: "Our main focus has to be making the playoffs again. We can’t bring any distractions from outside this clubhouse. Obviously, Josh is a big part of this organization and this ballclub. But whatever decision Major League Baseball makes, it’s their decision, not our decision. Our decision is to get ready for the season."

There were no new details on what prompted Hamilton to turn himself in, which prompted the initial report.

"As it pertains to anything regarding the JDA (Joint Drug Agreement), the confidentiality agreement that exists between the player and the players association and the league, I’m not permitted nor willing to talk about those things," Dipoto said.

Asked if he was worried his statement would be perceived as hostile, Dipoto said: "… it wasn’t our primary concern, not creating any type of hostility. I didn’t think of it as a hostile statement. Frankly now, I don’t think it’s a hostile statement. We were stating our opinion of the situation, following the league’s statement. Frankly, we have expressed support for the situation throughout, but we’re not going to sugarcoat issues and our opinion as we move forward.

"We have a team to focus on. We have 162 games in front of us. We’d like to play in the postseason. We have a responsibility to a group of guys down there that are committed to winning. We’re going to show our support to that group as well."