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Strain puts Angels' Hamilton on crutches

TEMPE, Ariz. -- So much for Josh Hamilton papering over the memory of a disappointing season with a monster spring training.

The Angels open Cactus League play Friday, but it could be weeks before their left fielder joins the lineup. On Tuesday, he strained his left calf muscle during a baserunning drill and left the clubhouse on crutches.

Hamilton said he suffered the injury as he took a lead off first base and then planted his left foot to run. He said he would be on crutches for about two days while the spasm eases in his left leg.

"I can't straighten it right now," Hamilton said.

He said he would be evaluated at the end of the week. He plans to take the injury "a week at a time" and be prudent in his rehabilitation.

"It sucks. I felt really good swinging the bat," Hamilton said. "I'm not going to rush back. There's no reason to rush."

Hamilton, 32, batted .250 with 21 home runs and a .739 OPS last season, a disappointing first year of his five-year, $125-million contract with the Angels. In his final season with the Texas Rangers, he batted .285 with 43 homers and a .930 OPS.

Hamilton gained about 20 pounds this winter. He lost about 25 pounds before his first season with the Angels, believing he would not lose weight as easily during the season outside of the heat and humidity of Texas. He decided to return to his old playing weight during the off-season.

He said he did not believe the calf injury was related to his fluctuating weight, noting he played at his current weight for years without a similar injury. He said this injury did not make him wonder if another challenging season might be in the offing.

"It is going to be a great year. I know it is. I believe it is," Hamilton said. "There have been times where I tweaked something in spring training and had a great year."

Wilson felled

Pitcher C.J. Wilson was struck on the side of the head by a line drive hit by catcher Yorvit Torrealba. Wilson was bloodied but conscious and alert, according to General Manager Jerry Dipoto.

Wilson was knocked down but popped right back up and wanted to keep pitching. Instead, after Wilson passed an initial neurological examination at the ballpark, the Angels sent him for a CT scan as a precaution. The test showed no evidence of injury, the team said.

"Everything is fine," Wilson tweeted, "except that pitch I threw."

The Angels are accelerating the workload of their pitchers this spring, including having starters throw live batting practice.

Jered Weaver, the projected opening-day starter, is scheduled to start Friday's Cactus League opener against the Chicago Cubs. In past years, an Angels starter might throw two innings in his first spring game, but Dipoto said he anticipates Weaver will throw three innings.

Dipoto also said the veteran relievers would pitch more innings. The Angels generally have held such relievers out of Cactus League games until mid-March, believing they needed relatively few innings to prepare for roles as short relievers.

(c)2014 Los Angeles Times

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