New chest injury shuts down Angels outfielder Josh Hamilton

Written By kolimtiga on Jumat, 19 September 2014 | 12.56

The music was blaring, the champagne and beer were flowing, the victory cigars were lit, and ski-goggle-wearing players were hugging and dancing, turning the Angels clubhouse into a scene from Animal House, minus the togas.

A wild American League West-clinching celebration was in full swing late Wednesday night, but Josh Hamilton, the team's cleanup hitter for much of the season, was nowhere to be found.

Hamilton was not in Angel Stadium for the game or division-clinching party. A "sharp, stabbing pain" in his chest and right rib-cage area that made it difficult for him to take deep breaths sent Hamilton to a chiropractor after batting practice and to his home for treatment for several hours in the evening.

One day after returning from an 11-game absence caused by a right-shoulder injury, Hamilton was shut down with a new injury that could threaten the left fielder's availability for the playoffs.

"I don't know what to tell you as far as long term, short term or whatever," Hamilton said before Thursday night's 3-1 loss to the Mariners. "But I'm going to do whatever I need to do to get back on the field."

Hamilton felt pain in his chest, ribs and armpit in batting practice Monday. He started at designated hitter Tuesday and had a hit in three at-bats, "but as I ran, as I swung, it got worse and worse, to the point where it hurt to breathe," he said.

When the discomfort continued Wednesday, Hamilton underwent an MRI test that showed no abnormalities. He returned to the stadium for batting practice but eventually left.

Hamilton is hitting .263 with 10 homers and 44 runs batted in but has been limited to 89 games, sitting out most of April and May because of a torn left thumb ligament and all but one game of the team's 10-game winning streak from Sept. 4-13 because of the shoulder injury.

If Hamilton can find his swing and power stroke in October, he would provide a huge boost. But the Angels don't know what to expect from Hamilton, or when he might be able to contribute.

"Hopefully it's a minor blip, and we'll see where we are in a day or two," said Manager Mike Scioscia. "He had a little relief [Thursday]. As soon as he's ready to play, we'll get him in there to get some at-bats."

Hamilton's absence did not put a damper on the festivities Wednesday night. Nor did the fact the Angels could not partake in the traditional dog pile around the mound after the final out of their 5-0 win.

For an hour after the game, the Angels gathered around their clubhouse televisions to watch the end of Texas' 6-1 come-from-behind victory over Oakland, which clinched the Angels' first division title since 2009.

The clubhouse erupted in a celebration that moved into the stadium, where players sprayed fans during a victory lap, and returned to the locker room, where it raged on past midnight.

Sure, it would have been a blast to clinch on the field and jump into a mass of sweat-soaked, red-clad humanity, but the Angels will have a chance to do that in the playoffs. Besides, with all those bodies and spikes flying around, and this team's recent injury history, somebody could have gotten hurt.

"It was different, but at the same time, think about how those moments happen," closer Huston Street said. "You've got guys in the bullpen, a guy on the mound, nine guys spread out on the field.

"This time, we all got to be in here together. Everyone was side by side, like a family watching a big moment. Maybe it's good to avoid those dog piles. A few of us have hammys, groins, and what not."

Street took in the clubhouse scene. Mike Trout grabbed Scioscia from behind and dumped a bucket of ice water over his head. Albert Pujols threw a bucket of water at a group of players' wives and girlfriends. Players sprayed one another with beer and champagne.

"These are the moments you dream of growing up as a little kid," said Street, who was acquired from San Diego in a July 18 trade and has helped solidify a once-shaky bullpen. "Every cliche feeling you can imagine, put it in a little ball and multiply it by a billion."

Twitter: @MikeDiGiovanna

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times

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