HOU@LAA: Hamilton's dinger evens the score at 3

ANAHEIM -- Josh Hamilton is still not ready to play the outfield, but he returned to the Angels' lineup as the designated hitter on Monday night against the Rays.

Shoulder pain caused Hamilton to DH during a three-game series against Tampa Bay last week and sit out the club's three games in Milwaukee over the weekend -- although he did pinch-hit on Saturday and Sunday.

Hamilton also experienced "a tremendous migraine" on Friday that caused him to leave Miller Park and return to the team hotel for the remainder of the game.

The right fielder felt ready to play Sunday, but Angels manager Mike Scioscia opted to give him a little extra rest.

Hamilton threw on the field prior to Monday's game and Scioscia expects him back in the outfield in the near future.

"He's getting there," Scioscia said. "He'll throw today and he's probably making enough strides where we can project putting him out in the outfield at some point."

Prospect Sappington thriving since promotion

Top Prospects: Mark Sappington, RHP, Angels

ANAHEIM -- The Angels are falling short of expectations this season, but there is at least one member of the organization accomplishing his goals.

Right-handed pitcher Mark Sappington, the Angels' No. 6 prospect, was promoted from Class A Advanced Inland Empire to Double-A Arkansas on Aug. 2. Although Sappington, a team-oriented player, admitted it was "tough" to leave his Inland Empire teammates, the advancement was exactly what he had been striving for.

"I was very excited, obviously," Sappington said. "That was a goal of mine. A goal of mine to start the year -- I wrote it down -- was to start the season in High-A and I wanted to finish it in Double-A. It was something that was very exciting for me and also something that I was working toward every single day."

A 6-foot-5 frame helps the 22-year old generate downward motion on a mid-90's fastball, but Sappington feels the adjustments from collegiate to professional baseball are more mental than physical.

"It's been a fun journey, a learning experience and a life experience," Sappington said of his first full year in professional baseball. "You go from managing a school schedule and academic workload with baseball to baseball being the only thing that you do.

"You have more freedom here, so are you going to choose to be lazy and not work out? Or are you going to make time for the things that are most important and make them a priority so you are ready for your next start? If you want it bad enough, your actions speak louder than words. You have to go out and do it."

And so far, Sappington is.

The right-hander went 11-4 with a 3.38 ERA for Inland Empire, and entering Monday, he was 1-1 with a 3.86 ERA in five starts for Arkansas.

Sappington is pleased with the progress he has made this season, but he knows there is room to improve as he continues his journey to the Major Leagues.

"I'm really focused on not being mechanical, just being athletic," Sappington said. "That's probably one of my biggest strengths, my athleticism. So I'm trying not to work against myself and allow my body to just do what it does."

Gutierrez nears return to the mound

ANAHEIM -- Juan Gutierrez has not pitched since Aug. 24 because of inflammation in his bicep, but the Angels right-hander expects to be available soon.

"I've been throwing," he said. "I threw a bullpen two days ago and felt good. I don't feel confident to throw 100 percent yet -- that's why I haven't pitched in a game -- but I'm close."

Angels manager Mike Scioscia agreed with Gutierrez's assessment.

"He's day to day," Scioscia said. "We'll see where it goes, but right now It's day to day."

Worth noting

• Right-handed pitcher Robert Coello -- currently on the 60-day DL with right shoulder inflammation -- began a rehab assignment with Arkansas on Monday.

Coello pitched one inning, threw 16 pitches and struck out two as he retired the side in order.

Grant Green was not in Monday's lineup, but Scioscia said there is nothing physically wrong with the second baseman. With the right-handed Chris Archer on the mound for the Rays, the Angels simply wanted to get more left-handed bats in the lineup.

• The date of Howie Kendrick's return remains a mystery.

"He's in all baseball activities," Scioscia said. "Just not running at 100 percent yet, but feeling better."