Shoemaker, Hamilton hope for Angels playoff return

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ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Rookie right-hander Matt Shoemaker and outfielder Josh Hamilton are both making progress toward a return from injuries for the Los Angeles Angels' playoff run.

Shoemaker played light catch at Angel Stadium on Monday, while Hamilton went through a full session of baseball activities, including hitting on the field, long toss and baserunning.

"Everything went well" for both players, according to Angels spokesman Tim Mead.

Shoemaker is expected to throw off a mound Tuesday, while Hamilton will repeat his rehab program Tuesday and Wednesday. If both players still feel good, they'll likely be available for selection to manager Mike Scioscia's postseason roster on Thursday morning.

Shoemaker (16-4, 3.04 ERA) mildly strained his left oblique in his last start Sept. 15, ending his dynamic regular season a bit prematurely. Last weekend in Seattle, the 28-year-old rookie said he was confident he could start for the Angels in the division series.

Shoemaker set a franchise rookie record for victories after joining the rotation in May. He was the Angels' best starter down the stretch, posting a 1.49 ERA in his last 11 appearances.

The Angels desperately hope Shoemaker can return to their rotation, which has already lost Garrett Richards and Tyler Skaggs to season-ending injuries. Jered Weaver (18-9) and C.J. Wilson (13-10) are expected to start the first two playoff games, but the Angels finished the regular season with Hector Santiago (6-9), Wade LeBlanc (1-1) and reliever Cory Rasmus rounding out their rotation.

Hamilton missed 21 of the Angels' last 22 games with upper-body injuries, but the top offense in the majors wasn't slowed by his persistent absence. Los Angeles' cleanup hitter and regular left fielder batted .263 with 10 homers and 44 RBIs in 89 games this season, the second in his five-year, $125 million contract.

Los Angeles opens the playoffs at home Thursday against the winner of Oakland's wild-card playoff at Kansas City. The Angels finished with the majors' best record at 98-64, earning home-field advantage throughout the postseason.

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