Halos' Hamilton to take rehab to Arizona

Halos' Hamilton to take rehab to Arizona

ANAHEIM -- Josh Hamilton hit on the field for the first time since tearing a ligament in his left thumb on Wednesday, swinging with one hand as he took side and front tosses from interim hitting coach Paul Sorrento.

Next, Hamilton will go to Arizona, where he'll hit off a tee using both hands and play catch on Friday.

Hamilton hopes to take live batting practice when the Angels return from a six-game road trip through Toronto and Philadelphia on May 15, and he hopes to return to the starting lineup for the home series against the Royals from May 23-25 -- six and a half weeks since Hamilton hurt his thumb while sliding headfirst into first base in Seattle.

Hamilton had been doing drills with his bottom hand in recent days, but asked to do them outside so he could make sure he continues to stay in the middle of the field.

The silver lining in all this is that it's Hamilton's left thumb that's injured, not his right.

"The top hand helps guide when you go through, but still, your bottom hand leads," Hamilton said. "If I'm getting in good position here, then I know when I put my top one back on, I'm going to be all right."

Angels manager Mike Scioscia has used five different cleanup hitters behind Albert Pujols since Hamilton went down on April 8. Raul Ibanez has hit there 12 times, Howie Kendrick has hit there nine times (including Wednesday), Ian Stewart twice, and David Freese and C.J. Cron have started one game apiece in the No. 4 spot.

With Hamilton playing in only eight of the team's first 32 games, the Angels are 14th in the Majors in OPS from the cleanup spot.

"We've had to do a lot of mixing and matching in the lineup," Scioscia said. "That big presence behind Albert is something we're searching for more."

Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Gonzo and "The Show", and follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.