8/23/2014 9:52 P.M. ET
Hamilton heating up using lighter bat
By Alden Gonzalez / MLB.com
OAKLAND -- Josh Hamilton switched to a slightly lighter bat after taking a couple of days off on Sunday and Monday. And though Angels manager Mike Scioscia wouldn't reveal specifics on the weight and called it "no big deal," it just so happens to coincide with the start of what could be a nice run for the veteran cleanup hitter.
Hamilton entered Saturday's matchup against Jon Lester 4-for-12 with five RBIs since being reinserted into the lineup on Tuesday. He's worked deep counts to draw two walks, has notched three of his hits to the opposite field, has lined out hard twice, hit a sacrifice fly that almost left Fenway Park on Wednesday and homered to right field on Saturday.
"It looks like he's really seeing the ball better," Scioscia said. "There's some walks that he's taking, some pitches he's laying off. And I think as a result of that, he's getting some better pitches to hit."
Beckham excited for 'clean slate' with Angels
OAKLAND -- Gordon Beckham was supposed to be a star by now.
He was the No. 8 overall pick in the 2008 First-Year Player Draft, skyrocketed to the Majors after 59 Minor League games and immediately succeeded with the White Sox in '09, batting .270 with 14 homers and 63 RBIs to finish fifth in American League Rookie of the Year voting.
But ever since, his bat has gone stale, and many have frequently wondered if he could ever get right again, and display the abilities he showed as a fresh-faced 22-year-old.
Beckham was asked that on Saturday, his first official day with the Angels.
"This," Beckham said, before clarifying. "What just happened, meaning the trade, has gotten me back there. I feel kind of like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders. For better or worse, there was a lot of scrutiny on me in Chicago. It's just a lot. I'm excited to kind of have a clean slate. I've got no agenda. I just want to go play, and enjoy playing, which I will."
How much Beckham plays is still in question, though.
The 27-year-old right-handed hitter was acquired on Thursday -- for a player to be named or cash considerations -- and was immediately inserted into the lineup at O.co Coliseum on Saturday, starting at third base and batting ninth against lefty Jon Lester so that David Freese can serve as the designated hitter.
For some reason -- Beckham himself can't explain it -- he has drastic splits this season, batting .309/.349/.454 against lefties and .191/.233/.297 against righties. Beckham's starts will probably come solely against southpaws the rest of the way, platooning at DH while spelling guys at third base, second base and shortstop.
One of the best defensive second basemen in the AL, Beckham hadn't played third base since his rookie season and hasn't seen much action at shortstop since his early days in the Minors. He took ground balls on the left side of the infield during off-days, simply to "keep it fresh."
"This is about their team," Beckham said. "I'm just here to help, honestly. I don't have any expectation of where I play, when I play, how much I play. I have no expectations."
White Sox fans had plenty of expectations for Beckham, who has batted .240/.299/.359 while averaging nine homers and 43 RBIs from 2010-14, never quite living up to the hype and perpetually finding his name in the rumor mill.
Beckham had to learn to fail in the Major Leagues, while playing for a team that was counting on him to be its next franchise guy and living under the microscope of a major market.
"I feel like in Chicago they had so much pressure on him to be the guy," said Angels starter Hector Santiago, Beckham's longtime teammate, who believes joining the Angels will "clear his mind" because he "doesn't have to be that guy who carries the team."
"It was tough," Beckham said. "I came up and played well. It was more of a struggle from then on. I felt like that weighed on me a lot, having that kind of baggage, it seemed like, all the time. This is honestly, I think, the best thing that could've happened to me -- get traded and get thrown into the pennant race."
Angels turning to bullpen often in second half
OAKLAND -- The Angels knew they'd rely heavily on their bullpen down the stretch, but the workload is starting to get a little troublesome.
Heading into Saturday's game against the A's, Angels relievers led the Majors in innings since the All-Star break with 125. Part of the reason is that 27 of the Angels' 33 second-half games have been decided by one or two runs; the other is that the starting rotation has compiled only 193 1/3 innings over that span, tied for 21st in the Majors.
The Angels finish the season with 43 games in 45 days, and somehow, Angels manager Mike Scioscia is going to have to find ways to keep his back-end trio of Kevin Jepsen, Joe Smith and Huston Street fresh.
"The thing that's going to keep our bullpen together is going to be the guys in the middle, who will be able to bridge some of those innings and take some pressure off the guys in the end," Scioscia said. "They're going to be a key component going down the stretch of the season."
• Hector Santiago's left hand was "feeling good" on Saturday, one day after taking a Josh Donaldson liner off it in the fifth. Santiago was checked on by the Angels' training staff, then faced two more batters and got out of the inning before exiting his start with 98 pitches. Santiago is expected to make his next scheduled start on Wednesday.
• Right-handed hitter Collin Cowgill started in place of the left-handed-hitting Kole Calhoun against southpaw Jon Lester on Saturday, even though Calhoun is batting .345 in his last 13 games. Scioscia wanted to "give Kole a chance to freshen up."
Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Gonzo and "The Show", and follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.