Hamilton confident he'll pick up where he left off

Hamilton confident he'll pick up where he left off

ANAHEIM -- Left fielder Josh Hamilton is slated to start a rehab assignment with Triple-A Salt Lake on Thursday, and he is targeting a return to the Major League lineup by Monday's series opener in Seattle -- the city where he broke his left thumb while sliding into first base on April 8.

When he does return, it'll mark the end of his longest stint on the disabled list since he reached the Majors in 2007. He's been out exactly six weeks as of Tuesday, but that doesn't make him feel as though he won't pick up on the .444/.545/.741 slash line he carried through the first eight games.

"You have to confidence when you're playing, man," Hamilton said. "When I got hurt, I was doing well, so why would I think I'd come back and struggle? The good thing about my swing right now is if I have a mishit or something, I can feel what I did wrong. And that's ultimately where you want to be."

Hamilton has been taking batting practice on the field, with both hands on the bat, ever since the Angels returned from their most recent road trip on Thursday and has been driving the ball with no restrictions. He had been running and throwing for much longer than that. Now all that's left is seeing some pitching.

"The biggest thing with injuries is, you can't think about it or try to favor anything," he said. "You do what you naturally do when everything's healthy. And the quicker you can do that, the faster it'll respond when you're out there healthy. That was the mentality -- just swing, and if it hurts, work through it. Fortunately, it didn't hurt."

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.