Josh Hamilton's attempt to beat out an infield grounder with a head-first slide into first base landed him on the bench for up to two months.
The 2010 American League MVP was placed on the 15-day disabled list Wednesday by the Los Angeles Angels with a torn ligament in his left thumb. He was hurt trying to hustle down the line and beat out a grounder in the seventh inning of Tuesday night's loss to Seattle. Hamilton was thrown out, but the consequences of his decision ended up being far greater.
"The news sucks. Anytime you play and you're playing hard and having fun, the last thing you want to do is do something that is going to cause you to miss time and maybe hurt your team in the long run," Hamilton said. "If I could see the future, obviously, I wouldn't do it."
Los Angeles said an MRI Wednesday revealed a complete tear of the thumb's ulnar collateral ligament. After initially saying hand and wrist specialist Dr. Steven Shin would operate at Kerlan-Jobe Orthopedics in Los Angeles, the Angels said Hamilton will be examined by Shin on Friday to determine whether surgery is needed.
Hamilton was placed on the 15-day disabled list, and outfielder J.B. Shuck was recalled from triple-A Salt Lake. Hamilton said he believed it was just a jammed thumb, but when he tried throwing in the outfield between innings he knew something might be wrong.
Hamilton told manager Mike Scioscia to have someone pinch hit for him in the ninth. Ian Stewart batted for Hamilton and struck out with the potential tying run on base in a 5-3 loss.
"It's definitely unfortunate but I think as a team you have to be able to absorb and be deep enough to absorb injuries to players and Josh is a special talent who is off to a great start for us. We'll do our best to fill that void," Scioscia said. "Over the years, we've had a lot of our key players miss significant time, but we've been able to absorb it and move on. That's what we have to focus on doing now for the next six, eight weeks, whatever the time frame is going to end up being."
Scioscia said the Angels lineup could see mixing and matching while Hamilton is out. Collin Cowgill was in the lineup in left field and leading off, with Kole Calhoun dropped to sixth in the order and Howie Kendrick moved up to Hamilton's usual No. 5 slot.
A five-time all-star, Hamilton has struggled since signing a $125 million US, five-year contract with the Angels before the 2013 season. He hit a career-low .250 last year with 21 homers and 79 runs batted in, his poorest power numbers since 2009. He was batting .207 with 25 RBIs through June 23, then hit .289 with 54 RBIs during the rest of the season.
Hamilton strained a calf muscle during a baserunning drill on Feb. 25 and didn't play in his first spring training game until March 17. He is hitting .444 with two homers and six RBIs in 27 at-bats this season.
Hamilton believes he can still keep his timing down with his swing even while he's sidelined.
"Disappointing in general that you've got to miss some time, because as a player you prepare the whole off-season to come in and do what you can to help contribute to your team winning ballgames," he said. "That's the most disappointing part of the injury."
The injury rekindled the debate about sliding into first base. Hamilton wasn't the only player to make that choice in Tuesday's game. Seattle's Michael Saunders had an awkward slide into first base running out a ground ball.
"It's just part of who I am. I've done that a lot," Hamilton said. "Who knows if I will ever do that again?"