ANAHEIM -- Left fielder Josh Hamilton is slated to start a rehab assignment with Triple-A Salt Lake on Thursday, and he is targeting a return to the Major League lineup by Monday's series opener in Seattle -- the city where he broke his left thumb while sliding into first base on April 8.
When he does return, it'll mark the end of his longest stint on the disabled list since he reached the Majors in 2007. He's been out exactly six weeks as of Tuesday, but that doesn't make him feel as though he won't pick up on the .444/.545/.741 slash line he carried through the first eight games.
"You have to confidence when you're playing, man," Hamilton said. "When I got hurt, I was doing well, so why would I think I'd come back and struggle? The good thing about my swing right now is if I have a mishit or something, I can feel what I did wrong. And that's ultimately where you want to be."
Hamilton has been taking batting practice on the field, with both hands on the bat, ever since the Angels returned from their most recent road trip on Thursday and has been driving the ball with no restrictions. He had been running and throwing for much longer than that. Now all that's left is seeing some pitching.
"The biggest thing with injuries is, you can't think about it or try to favor anything," he said. "You do what you naturally do when everything's healthy. And the quicker you can do that, the faster it'll respond when you're out there healthy. That was the mentality -- just swing, and if it hurts, work through it. Fortunately, it didn't hurt."
Freese returns from DL; Jimenez optioned
ANAHEIM -- David Freese was activated off the disabled list on Tuesday, starting at third base and batting sixth after missing 18 days with a nondisplaced fracture in his right middle finger.
Now the question is: Will the Angels get the Freese who struggled through most of the first month, or the one who was showing signs of turning it around just before landing on the shelf?
The 31-year-old is "confident" it'll be the latter.
"I felt good before I got hurt," Freese said. "There were some things that I was working on, and I went to [Triple-A] Salt Lake and kind of picked up where I left off. I'm excited to get back in there. It felt longer than two weeks, that's for sure."
Freese returns with a .202/.266/.286 slash line, but he had eight hits in the 21 at-bats that spanned six games before he took a Colby Lewis fastball to his right hand on May 2.
Just before getting hurt, Freese realized he was "kind of forcing myself to stay so much inside the ball that I was overturning and I couldn't get the path that I normally like to the ball."
So he made an adjustment that allowed him to "get in a position to kind of just get my body free to attack the ball."
Freese believes he can continue to apply that.
At this point it's all about tolerating some lingering pain in the finger when he throws.
"I did what I had to do in Salt Lake to prove I can make every play," said Freese, whose return meant that third baseman Luis Jimenez was sent back to Triple-A. "The swing feels good. The throwing, you still feel it, but you're able to do everything. And that's what we're working through. It's been a little over two weeks, and recovery's been great. So I'm ready to go."
Freese is fresh off playing in three games for the Bees, notching two hits -- both of them homers -- in 10 at-bats and walking four times. He served as the designated hitter on Saturday, then started at third base on Sunday and Monday. He spiked his first throw after fielding a slow chopper, but "each day it got better, and yesterday was where I wanted to be, where I need to be."
"Thankfully," he added, "because they had a 10:30 a.m. game this morning, and I didn't have to play in that."
Navarro has shown he can play outfield
ANAHEIM -- Right fielder Kole Calhoun (sprained right ankle) will be activated from the disabled list for Wednesday's series finale against the Astros, and that could mean Efren Navarro is to be sent back to Triple-A.
If Navarro departs, he'll do so having shown the Angels that he can contribute as an outfielder.
"I've obviously proven that I can make the adjustments, and I just want the team to know that I'm capable of playing out there and showing them the confidence every day," Navarro said. "And plus, I'll continue to work and get better. But whatever happens, I came up here and did my job and helped the team win."
Navarro -- taken in the 50th round of the 2007 First-Year Player Draft -- has long been the best defensive first baseman in the organization, but he had been mired in Triple-A for the vast majority of the previous three seasons and figured he'd give the outfield a shot during winter ball this past offseason.
He alerted the coaches in Spring Training, spent some time in left field with the Salt Lake Bees and has started six games in the corner outfield -- including Tuesday in right field -- since his May 9 callup, batting .318/.400/.500 in the process.
The 28-year-old has read balls well off the bat in left and right field. And on Monday he recorded his first outfield assist, cutting off Dexter Fowler's RBI single in right-center, spinning and making an on-target one-hop throw to second for the out.
"I knew I had a good arm, but there's a lot in there that I didn't know about," he said. "It's good to see."
• The Angels will host a screening of "The Lego Movie" at the conclusion of Saturday's 4:15 p.m. PT game against the Royals. The movie -- 100 minutes long -- will begin approximately 15 minutes after the game and will be showed on the left and right field videoboards. Outfield grass viewing is available on a first-come-first-served basis.
• Mike Trout served as the designated hitter for the second time in nine days on Tuesday and was taken out for a pinch-runner in the fifth inning. After the game, a 9-3 win, Trout said he nursed some tightness in his left hamstring the previous two days but added that it's nothing serious and that he would have stayed in if the Angels didn't have a seven-run lead at that point.
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.