Wilson was never pulled into drug-and-alcohol addictions, but he always admired the way Hamilton overcame them.
TEMPE, Ariz. -- There are 62 players squeezed into the Angels' clubhouse here at Tempe Diablo Stadium, the quarters cramped enough that there are a couple places where two low men on the totem pole share a locker or a chair. This is the setup even without Josh Hamilton's outsized presence taking part in these spring proceedings, and Hamilton's recovery from shoulder surgery now combines with the threat of a disciplinary suspension from Major League Baseball as reasons for the Angels not to have bothered issuing their left fielder a locker.
We really don't know how long to expect the Angels to be without Hamilton in 2015 (the latest injury-related prognosis had been early May), but his injury history had already compelled general manager Jerry Dipoto to shore up the roster depth in left and at DH this winter. And now, with Hamilton's status truly up in the air, the alternate options assembled here in Arizona and potentially available elsewhere in the annual spring swap market are worth evaluating all the more.
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Every spring the expectations rise, the demands increase and the attention grows -- and yet Mike Trout stays the same.
"Mike's never changed, and that's the beauty of Mike," said Garrett Richards, Trout's best friend on the Angels. "He's never changed, he's never skipped a beat; he's been the same guy since I've known him, since Day 1. And that's rare. You'd think it would go the other way."
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Garrett Richards knows the odds are somewhat stacked against him, and he understands that it would be practical of the Angels to place him on the disabled list at the start of the season to make sure he's 100 percent healthy.
But that isn't changing his mindset.
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Josh Hamilton met with Major League Baseball officials at the Commissioner's Office on Wednesday regarding a disciplinary issue, the Angels confirmed, but the team declined to provide specifics about the meeting, wasn't certain when it might hear from MLB and was bracing for the possibility of a suspension.
The Los Angeles Times first reported news of the meeting in New York. CBSSports.com reported that Hamilton, who was suspended from 2004-06 because of issues related to cocaine and alcohol abuse, admitted to having a drug-related relapse this offseason, which is what precipitated the meeting.
TEMPE, Ariz. -- When Major League Baseball announced that hitters must keep one foot in the batter's box this season, Mike Trout was usually the first name that came to mind.
"It's funny," Trout said, "because when I heard that rule, everybody was like, 'That's you.' We'll see how it goes."
TEMPE, Ariz. -- It took Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto a lot of years, a lot of trades and a lot of names to finally find a bullpen group he's content with, and he got there in a rather unconventional way:
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Every year there's one guy who sticks out amid the monotony; a pitcher who turns heads in the early bullpen sessions because the catcher's mitt just seems to pop a little louder when he's letting them go.
For the Angels so far, that guy is Matt Lindstrom.
That's a pretty favorable dilemma.
TEMPE, Ariz. -- The Angels are going to have to wait a little longer to get their first look at Cuban infielder Roberto Baldoquin.
Baldoquin isn't expected to join the rest of the position players for the first full workout on Wednesday due to visa issues that are keeping him in the Dominican Republic. The 20-year-old right-handed hitter will work out mostly in Minor League camp this spring, but he'll occasionally work with coaches on the Major League side, and he may even get in some games late in the Cactus League schedule.
TEMPE, Ariz. -- At least one of the Angels' rotation spots -- possibly two, if Garrett Richards starts the season on the disabled list -- is a wide-open competition in Spring Training, even though one of the candidates isn't sure why.
"I feel like I've earned a spot," Hector Santiago said. "In my eyes, I feel like it. They probably want a lot more out of me, but I feel like I did well enough in the second half."
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Garrett Richards completed his third bullpen session of the spring on Monday morning, throwing 40 pitches -- four-seam fastballs and two-seam fastballs -- from the stretch at the Angels' Spring Training complex.
"Outstanding," Angels pitching coach Mike Butcher said. "He looked really good."
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Angels reliever Fernando Salas had an under-the-radar rebirth in 2014, posting a 3.38 ERA, striking out 9.4 batters per nine innings and appearing in 57 Major League games after spending half of the previous year stuck in the Cardinals' Triple-A affiliate.
But the 29-year-old right-hander has navigated through his entire career with a dangerously high fly-ball rate, which most notably led to serving up the game-winning homer in Game 1 of the American League Division Series last October.
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Erick Aybar likes his feeds from second basemen slightly high and away from his body, so he can stretch his left arm back, pivot his body and gain some momentum toward first base to complete a double play. Howie Kendrick likes them out in front so he can come across the bag, but when a speedy runner is coming toward second base on a slow roller, he expects the feed from the shortstop off to his right so he can use the bag as protection, and Aybar used to put it there every single time.
That's the kind of chemistry you build after turning double plays together for the better part of 10 years.
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Albert Pujols has a 9-year-old daughter, Sophia, who's really passionate about gymnastics and getting really good at it. On Saturday, Pujols and his wife, Deidre, watched her capture first place at a big meet in St. Louis.
"Tears were coming out of our eyes," Pujols said. "We were so happy for her."
TEMPE, Ariz. -- The Angels followed the recent trend throughout baseball last season and incorporated a lot more shifting to their defense.
In 2015, they'll take it to a new level.
TEMPE, Ariz. -- The Angels still aren't sure when Josh Hamilton will join their lineup -- not to mention when he'll show up for Spring Training -- but that hasn't prompted Jerry Dipoto to search for another bat from outside the organization.
The Angels' general manager feels the presence of left-handed-hitting outfielder Matt Joyce along with fourth outfielder Collin Cowgill and Dan Robertson -- acquired from the Rangers for a player to be named or cash in November -- provide enough outfield depth in the meantime. Joyce will start the season in left field, with C.J. Cron a likely candidate at designated hitter.
TEMPE, Ariz. -- A big part of Jered Weaver's greatness comes from his length and flexibility. The Angels' ace doesn't throw particularly hard, but he has pinpoint location and creates deception with a wiry, 6-foot-7 frame that allows him to pitch across his body and be a nightmare for opposing right-handed hitters.
Thing is, Weaver isn't so wiry anymore.
TEMPE, Ariz. -- And the Angels' new cleanup hitter is … TBD.
There's no telling when Josh Hamilton will fully recover from right shoulder surgery, and the man who replaced him in the cleanup spot down the stretch last year, Howie Kendrick, is now with the Dodgers.
TEMPE, Ariz. -- If you could just eliminate the first two months, David Freese would've had a very good first year with the Angels in 2014. But you can't. April and May happened, so Freese's final numbers were subpar -- almost identical to the ones from 2013 but well below what he did as an All-Star in 2012.
So, why did he struggle so much in those first two months?
TEMPE, Ariz. -- The Angels and the City of Anaheim "are nowhere" with regard to lease negotiations, Angels owner Arte Moreno said Friday morning.
"We've had zero conversations with them," Moreno added, "and we have no planned conversations with them."
TEMPE, Ariz. -- The Angels don't know when Josh Hamilton will report for Spring Training, and at this point they can't be sure if the high-priced slugger will even report at all.
Hamilton, 16 days removed from surgery to his right AC joint, is currently rehabbing in Houston and will remain there until he is cleared for baseball activities. The initial prognosis called for a return in six to eight weeks, which would have the 33-year-old outfielder back before the end of April, but his recovery could drag into May.
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Garrett Richards breezed through his second bullpen session on Friday morning -- 30 pitches, once again all fastballs from the stretch.
But the 26-year-old right-hander is still easing his way into baseball activities after a six-month recovery from left knee surgery. He's still behind the other starters, who entered camp having thrown at least a handful of bullpen sessions. And though he continues to target an Opening Day return, Richards is using that mostly as a motivation tool.
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Major League Baseball announced initiatives aimed toward quickening the pace of play on Friday, regulations that include managers staying in the dugout for replay challenges, hitters keeping one foot in the batter's box and clocks being incorporated in hopes of shortening the time between innings.
Angels manager Mike Scioscia is under the impression that it's still "a work in progress."
TEMPE, Ariz. -- The Angels lost Chris Iannetta's platoon mate in early November, when Hank Conger was dealt to the Astros for young starter Nick Tropeano and Minor League catcher Carlos Perez. But Angels manager Mike Scioscia doesn't have any plans to give Iannetta a Salvador Perez-type workload.
"Anywhere from 100 to 115" starts behind the plate is ideal, Scioscia said of Iannetta, who started 92 games last season and has a career high of 105.
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Huston Street, who serves as his own agent, has been having "on and off" conversations with the Angels about a potential contract extension since December, and the veteran closer said Thursday that both sides are "on the same path."
There is no firm deadline for when an extension has to be agreed upon, Street said, but there's a mutual understanding that they won't let negotiations drag into the regular season if they aren't in the final stages.
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Last year the Angels grinded through one of their most intense Spring Training camps, separated themselves throughout the six-month regular season with a Major League-leading 98 wins, and then -- poof! -- it was over. They did everything they could to set themselves up for a deep October run, and all it got them was three postseason games -- all losses to the Royals in the American League Division Series.
Now the work starts all over again, and sometimes it's hard to focus on the process when the lingering result is so unpleasant.