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Tuesday Halolinks: Josh Hamilton makes return as Kole Calhoun walks off

Josh Hamilton was in the Angels' batting order for the first time this spring, while Calhoun took care of the game.

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Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

The vacation's over and it's time to get back to work in the cold weather of Wisconsin.  It's so weird, yesterday I was in 80 degree is overcast, twenty-nine, and a chance of snow/sleet.  Sometimes we never seem to stop paying for bad decisions, and today's weather is one of those times.  Anyway, enough about my pitiful life, here's some Halolinks:

  • I think I've written this before, but how can we not get excited about Kole Calhoun?  If the Angels put him at the top of their batting order, the season is going to be, and I hate using this word, "electric": Angels' Kole Calhoun hits walk-off homer vs. Giants in Josh Hamilton's spring debut -  "After Shawn O'Malley singled with one out in the bottom of the inning, Calhoun launched a Jean Machi pitch over the right-field fence to end the game."
  • Another reason this year could be different than the last few is how well the hitters on the team could be great or at least good, from top-to-bottom.  If, and I hate using that word too, Hamilton and Pujols could return to at least 90% production of what we've seen in previous season, the emergence of Calhoun, and a little bounce-back from Freese, we're going to completely dig this season's offense: Hamilton back in the swing for Angels - The Orange County Register.  "First day back, you’re gonna be a little jumpy," Hamilton said. "My first couple at-bats were exactly that. I wasn’t really focused on when to start my load and everything, but in the third at-bat I really focused on it and felt like I put a better swing on the ball. It was good overall." When he reached base, Hamilton took off for second on a 3-2 pitch and appeared to run normally. He and Angels manager Mike Scioscia were pleased with the ease he displayed on the basepaths. "They wouldn’t put me in the game until they felt like I could do all the things I needed to do," Hamilton said."  And, apparently "4000 Games" Spence agrees: Lyle Spencer: Tim Lincecum, Josh Hamilton ready to return to form -  "Manager Mike Scioscia was happy to have the left-handed weapon back in service, breaking up a righty-tilting lineup featuring Mike Trout and Albert Pujols. Scioscia and Trout were discussing the impact of Hamilton's return on what Hamilton called a "stacked lineup" before Monday's game. "I was talking with Mike in the outfield, going through the lineup and just the difference Josh makes when he's in there," Scioscia said. "These guys are excited to see what it's going to be like with him in the middle."
  • To me, the most important part about the above clip is Hamilton's ability to run the bases.  His swing is obviously important, but running the bases shows that his calf injury is on its way to being a non-issue:  Josh Hamilton passes tests in Angels' exhibition game -  "It felt good," Hamilton said. "I did all the things you're supposed to be able to do on the field." On Monday he did, since the Angels limited him to designated hitter in a game against the San Francisco Giants. Manager Mike Scioscia did not say when he expected Hamilton to play his first game in the outfield. The Angels are off Tuesday. Their next game is Wednesday, and they open the regular season 12 days after that."
  • Mike Trout, good baseball player: Oh, my: Mike Trout may get even better - ESPN.  "Trout saying he's going to be more aggressive doesn't mean he's necessarily going to be more aggressive and turn into Kirby Puckett. Trout was third in the majors with 110 walks and part of the reason he's hit .326 and .323 his first two full seasons is he waits for a pitch in his zone, and I suspect he's fully aware of that. Yes, hitting in deep counts is also a reason he struck out 136 times but it's also a reason he drew all the walks and led the American League in runs scored for a second straight season. As for the RBIs, Trout still managed to drive in 97 runs even while taking all those free passes. With a .432 on-base percentage, Trout got on base at a higher clip than everyone except Miguel Cabrera and Joey Votto, one of just seven regulars to post an OBP over .400."
  • What the hell took so long for Blanton to figure out a slight move down the rubber would impact his ability to pitch?  Where was Mike Butcher during this time, sleeping like a baby?  Angels' Joe Blanton wobbles in third inning vs. Cubs |  "In his previous start, Angels starter Joe Blanton moved to the third-base side of the rubber and pitched five one-hit innings against the Rangers, which was a much improved outing after serving up four homers over 3 1/3 innings against the Rockies. On Monday, Blanton was again on the third-base side and only had difficulty in the third. With one out in the Chicago third, Darnell McDonald walked and scored one out later on Emilio Bonifacio's triple. Ryan Roberts followed with a RBI double and then tallied on Anthony Rizzo's single to go up 3-0. Blanton was lifted after 5 1/3 innings, giving up three runs on four hits and two walks."
  • With Opening Day just a couple weeks away, there's been a lot of good stuff on the Angel's MLB site.  Here's yesterday's Alden Gonzalez round-up: Lively pitches mean walks a way of life for Santiago -  "Santiago issued just three walks in his first 11 Cactus League innings, but gave out three more in a 91-pitch, 5 1/3-inning outing against the Giants on Monday, which saw him scatter three runs on four hits while striking out five.
    Ibanez gets reacquainted with first in spring game Ibanez reclaimed the glove that day and made his spring debut at first base Monday, while right fielder Kole Calhoun saw four innings there Sunday and an additional three Monday. Scioscia's hope is that at least one of them gets comfortable there, so that his lineup doesn't really have to change on the days Albert Pujols serves as a designated hitter.
    Angels trim spring roster, send down seven players On Monday, seven players were cut from big league camp -- right-handed reliever Josh Wall, left-handed relievers Buddy Boshers and Clay Rapada, third baseman Luis Jimenez, shortstop Tommy Field, first baseman Efren Navarro and catcher John Hester -- and now a Spring Training roster that began with 67 players has been whittled to 42.
  • What's up with all of the ligament damage?  Patrick Corbin tears UCL, could miss 2014 Diamondbacks season.  "The Diamondbacks departed for Australia on Sunday evening, but their day began with disheartening news: An MRI revealed Corbin had a tear in the ulnar collateral ligament of his left elbow, an injury significant enough to require season-ending Tommy John surgery."  So far, 6 pitchers have gone down and will need TJ surgery: Injury updates: Kris Medlen, Brandon Beachy, Jarrod Parker, Patrick Corbin, Jonathon Niese, Joe Wieland - MLB Daily Dish.  "Six young pitchers are at risk of having Tommy John surgery after suffering injuries during spring training."
  • Ouch: Brandon Phillips Line Drive Absolutely Rips Ump In The Dick.  "This...this is a mess. In the second inning of today's Reds-Indians game, Brandon Phillips uncorked a rocket right into umpire Brad Myers's dick. Myers tried to jump out of the way and instead positioned his dick right in the line of fire. He would remain on the ground for some time as both Cleveland and Cincinnati trainers checked him out."
  • Any guesses on which team spent a half million on a new internet porn device?  Supercomputers: Game on - The Economist.  "The number crunchers who looked at player statistics to make decisions back then, for example, worked on regular PCs. But 95% of all data collected over the 140-year history of major league baseball (MLB) has been generated in the last five years, according to Sean Lahman, a baseball expert and journalist. With new troves of information, teams can make decisions entirely different from those central to "Moneyball". Consequently, one MLB team has invested in a Cray supercomputer according to Pete Ungaro, the company’s chief executive officer. The team, which declines to be named, exemplifies an organisation that, five years ago, most people would not have dreamed would need, or even want, a supercomputer, he says."
  • This is totally amazing: Watch This Amazing Projection System Transform The Cavaliers' Court.  "The Cleveland Cavaliers have been disappointing and boring this year, so it's safe to say that this video is the team's greatest contribution to the NBA season."