Halos' Hamilton has cortisone shots for lingering pain

Halos' Hamilton has cortisone shots for lingering pain

ANAHEIM -- In an effort to rid himself of lingering pain on the right side of his body and prepare for the playoffs, Josh Hamilton has tried a lot -- stretching, hitting, running, throwing.

On Friday, Hamilton took the severe measure of taking seven cortisone shots -- five nerve blocks on his back and two injections on his chest. In the last two weeks, he had previously received five shots on his sore shoulder.

"I think I'm radioactive," Hamilton joked.

Hamilton, who is now bothered by rib pain that once made it hard for him to breathe, is aiming to return for the final game of the Oakland series next Wednesday or the series opener at Seattle two days later. A CT scan on Friday showed inflammation in his ribs.

"Whatever it takes to get well enough to get back and play three or four games before the playoffs," Hamilton said.

Hamilton said he no longer had trouble breathing, and the sharp, stabbing pain around his ribs underneath his armpit was gone. The 33-year-old left fielder said he was just sore from the shots themselves.

He started Tuesday's game as the designated hitter, but those three at-bats have been his only action since Sept. 4.

"I got more confidence that I'll come in every day feeling a little bit better than if I hadn't done it," Hamilton said. "We feel like this is the next step: throw something big at it to try to calm it down the quickest."

While Hamilton did indicate that he would like to play the field when he returns, he said spasms bothered him when he threw on Thursday.

"The actual throwing was fine, but the glove part of it, I came in straight from that and spasmed up right away," Hamilton said. "The initial doing it is not the problem, it's the after. Obviously, I'd be doing it a lot, and we can't have the after happen."

When Hamilton does return, it'll be just a few games before the playoffs. In the past, how long has it taken him to get comfortable in the batter's box?

"I've had success with no at-bats and not any success with 50, so that's a tough question to answer," Hamilton said. "Just pray it's no at-bats."

Hamilton is a big piece of the Angels' playoff roster puzzle. If he's healthy, he serves as a dangerous middle-of-the-lineup threat that complements Mike Trout and Albert Pujols. If he's not, the Angels will have to figure out how to replace him without shorting their thin pitching staff.

Matt Shoemaker, who is sidelined with a mild left oblique strain, missed his scheduled start on Saturday and hasn't thrown off a mound since pitching on Monday. Since then, he has reported feeling better each day.

The Angels are hoping Shoemaker will return in time for the American League Division Series, but manager Mike Scioscia said they wouldn't know much until Shoemaker throws.

"When Shoe starts to throw, gets off the mound and turns it loose, you'll kind of exhale and breathe a sigh of relief," Scioscia said. "We're not there yet. That's the only thing that's going to show you where Shoe is."

Matthew DeFranks is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.