04/07/2013 8:36 PM ET
CJ offers perspective to Hamilton's Texas return
By Lyle Spencer / MLB.com
ARLINGTON -- C.J. Wilson understands why Rangers fans would not be happy seeing Josh Hamilton come back to his former home in the uniform of the their team's American League West rivals, the Angels. It's a simple case of fans being fans, for better or worse.
"We're all baseball players," said Wilson, who experienced the same sensation last season coming back to Texas as an Angels starting pitcher after serving the Rangers in multiple roles, from starting to closing. "It's not real life. Sports gives you something to cheer for or boo about. It's your choice. They're not going to cheer for him, obviously."
That leaves two options, basically. Boo, hiss and unleash unkind chants, or stay silent as a rock. Most Rangers fans have not been rocks this weekend.
"Moving on is hard for people in life, and this is no different," Wilson said. "I like to say that the team you're playing for is your girlfriend. It's not a marriage. You're going to go home when it's over. It's always going to be temporary.
"Nolan Ryan pitched for the Angels, the Astros, the Rangers. All those teams he had to go back and face. There are emotions you go through any time that happens. You always want to do well, whether you're facing the Yankees, Cubs or Rangers. The same thing happened to me when I came back here, to a degree. My first game back it's a rain [delay]. I loaded the bases and all the runs scored."
That was last May, when Wilson's ERA took a beating with four earned runs charged against him while he was getting one out. When the game resumed, Wilson did not reappear. He took the loss, started the following day, giving up two earned runs in 5 2/3 innings, but did not get the decision in an Angels victory. So it goes.
Hamilton is hitless in the first two games, dropping his average to .050. The Rangers walked Albert Pujols intentionally three times in front of Hamilton on Saturday.
"Josh will realize there's nobody on the fence anymore," Wilson said, referring to the emotional tug of war of coming back to the place he considers home and getting booed lustily. "Be thankful for the time you spent with your old organization and make the best of where you are now."
Most Rangers fans eventually will carry fond memories of Hamilton's years in Texas, Wilson believes. They were five great years, with two World Series trips and coming as close to a championship -- one more out in Game 6 in St. Louis -- as possible to winning it all in 2011. Hamilton was a huge part of that team.
"The guy put up the best numbers on his team in the non-steroid era -- .310, 28 [homers], 100 RBIs," Wilson said, referencing Hamilton's statistical norm for Texas. "He gave these fans a lot to cheer about."
Frieri benefits from a short memory
ARLINGTON -- Ernesto Frieri has learned through experience not to carry a rough outing over into the next day, the next game. The Angels' closer gave up a ninth-inning homer on Saturday to Nelson Cruz, but it was in a non-save situation. With a five-run lead, Frieri was getting in some work, not trying to nail down a one-run game.
"I remember when I was in that streak last year of [27 1/3] innings without giving up a run," Frieri said, referring to his remarkable run after coming to the Angels in a trade with the Padres. "When I gave up my first runs in New York against the Yankees, I knew it was going to happen sooner or later. It couldn't go on forever. It didn't bother me the next time I went out there. I didn't give up any runs [against the Tigers]. Next chance I got, I got the save.
"That's why this is the best sport. You have a bad day, you can make up for it the next day. You never want to do bad, but this game is tough. We're facing the best hitters in baseball. They're going to hit one out of the park sometimes. You've got to have a short memory and learn to let it go, move on to the next one."
Frieri is 27, just entering his prime, but he has been a professional since 2003 when he made his debut in the Padres organization. He took tremendous strides last year, holding hitters to a .140 batting average in 54 1/3 innings, racking up 80 strikeouts against 26 walks. His role might change when Ryan Madson is ready to go, but Frieri is all about the team, not personal numbers.
"My confidence every single year is getting huge," Frieri said. "The experience I'm gaining every single day and season is great, especially with the type of team we have. I'm always trying to learn something from everyone. I'm prepared to keep doing what I did last year and help this team win. That's what it's all about. We have a lot of great arms in our bullpen, and I'm happy to be with these guys."
• The numbers and milestones continue to pile up for Albert Pujols, who broke out of a 1-for-14 start with two homers on Saturday, lifting him past Stan Musial and Willie Stargell into 27th place all-time with 477. Next on the list, tied at 493, are Lou Gehrig and Fred McGriff, two more first baseman. He is the all-time leader after 12 seasons, according to STATS, in homers, doubles and total bases. Pujols is two extra-base hits away from 1,000, having passed Hall of Famers Honus Wagner and Al Simmons to move into 35th place all-time.
"I don't play for numbers, look at numbers," said Pujols, who on Saturday became the first player to hit two homers and get walked intentionally three times in the same game. "The last thing you want to do is get caught up in numbers."
• Chris Iannetta has hit safely in each of his four games and leads the team with four RBIs. Mike Trout has opened the season with a five-game hitting streak.
• Mark Trumbo seems to thrive in Texas. His opposite-field homer on Saturday gave him five blasts in 11 games at Rangers Ballpark since the start of 2012.
Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.