Angels outfielder Josh Hamilton has had a drug "relapse," according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. The incident occurred a few months back, per Heyman, and involved cocaine and possibly other drugs.
Discipline for Hamilton would be at baseball commissioner Rob Manfred's discretion, according to Jon Morosi of FOX Sports. He is outside the standard program due to failed tests in the minors.
This report comes just a few hours after Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times reported that Hamilton was meeting with Major League Baseball in New York regarding a possible disciplinary matter. According to Heyman, he confessed his usage to MLB, which likely occurred during the meeting.
Hamilton has had prior issues with drug and alcohol addiction in the past. He was on Major League Baseball's restricted list from 2003 to 2005 due to those issues.
When healthy and on the field, Hamilton has been a solid player. Last season, in 381 plate appearances with Los Angeles, Hamilton hit .263/.331/.414 with 10 homers, 44 runs batted in, and a 114 OPS+. The Angels signed Hamilton to a five-year, $125 million deal that will run through 2017.
If Hamilton is suspended by Major League Baseball, "he could be out until late June or July," according to DiGiovanna's report. He would go uncompensated during that time. He is set to make $25.4 million this season and $64.8 million from 2016-17 on the rest of his contract.
Hamilton's possible suspension could cause depth issues for the Angels for this 2015 season. He's served as a corner outfielder for the Angels in the two years he's spent with them, also spending some time at designated hitter. Collin Cowgill and Matt Joyce could serve as options in the outfield for Hamilton, with Joyce already being the team's primary designated hitter.
Hamilton was already planning to be out until April or May as he recovered from surgery to repair the AC joint in his right shoulder. Now it appears that he could be out for an extended period of time, due to this relapse in drug addiction. I hope Hamilton can get the help he needs to overcome this problem.
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