C.J. Wilson: Angels hard on Josh Hamilton due to performance

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Sunday, April 12, 2015

In the ongoing saga between Josh Hamilton and the Los Angeles Angels, one teammate has publicly come out in support of the embattled left fielder.

Left-hander C.J. Wilson says he believes the team would show more support for Hamilton if he had been playing better.

"If Josh was hitting .300 with 35 home runs a year, what's the situation?" Wilson told the Orange County Register on Saturday. "Obviously, that's the player that they want. That's the player they paid for."

The 34-year-old Hamilton signed a five-year, $125 million contract with Los Angeles in December 2012 after hitting 43 home runs with the Texas Rangers the previous season. He hasn't reached that homer total in two years with the Angels, hitting 31 total. He has hit .255 with Los Angeles after having a .304 career batting average before joining the Angels.

Hamilton has not played this season. He is on the disabled list following February shoulder surgery and is not expected to be available to play until May.

On Friday, team owner Arte Moreno wouldn't confirmthat Hamilton would play for the Angels again after his latest relapse into substance abuse.

Moreno said the outfielder's contract contains language protecting the team against a relapse by Hamilton and added that the Angels may try to recoup the $83 million left on Hamilton's contract. The players' association later issued a statement denying Moreno's claims.

Wilson is the Angels' player representative for the MLBPA. He also was a teammate of Hamilton's with the Rangers from 2008 to '11.

"I've had up seasons and down seasons. I know exactly how different baseball treats you in general -- fans, fantasy sports, major news networks," Wilson told the newspaper. "Literally everything is different if you're good. If you're good, you get away with everything. That's all there is to it."

Hamilton self-reported his relapse to Major League Baseball in February but was not suspended after an arbiter's ruling.

After the announcement that Hamilton would not be suspended, Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto said in a statement that the team had "serious concerns about Josh's conduct, health and behavior."

But Wilson said his teammate isn't alone in his struggles.

"Let's face it: Josh is not the only person in professional sports that has had an addiction issue. He's just the most open about it," Wilson said.

The Angels pitcher added that Hamilton would be welcomed back to the locker room -- where he does not currently have a locker -- by his teammates.

"We need to figure out collectively as teammates what's going to make Josh play the best," Wilson said. "If he plays up to his abilities, he's as good as anyone else who's ever going to step onto the diamond against him."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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