LOS ANGELES -- Tuesday's start against the Dodgers would appear to be another crucial one for Joe Blanton and his 6.19 ERA. Jered Weaver is rejoining the Angels' rotation the next day, Tommy Hanson is expected to return to the staff later this week and long reliever Jerome Williams -- 2.58 ERA on the year, 3.19 ERA in five starts -- has made a case to stay in the rotation.
The perception is that Blanton really has something to prove, even after bouncing back with 6 1/3 innings of two-run ball in a win against the Royals on Thursday.
Blanton would disagree.
"I don't have anything to prove," he said "This is my ninth [full season]. If I have to prove something my ninth year … you know, obviously I want to throw the ball well. Especially being on a new team, everything looks different because you don't have any background with the team."
Asked how he was able to bounce back his last time out, Blanton laughed and said: "They hit balls at people."
But he isn't joking.
Blanton acknowledges that he "really didn't throw the ball well at all the first three games of the year."
"But scratching those," he added, "I feel like I've pretty much thrown the ball the way I want to throw. Stuff's been fine, and they've just hit balls where people aren't. There's nothing you can do about that."
After being charged with 14 earned runs in 14 2/3 innings through his first three starts, Blanton turned it around, going at least six innings in each of his next four outings -- three of which were quality starts -- and posting a 4.05 ERA in that span. Then, just before capturing his first victory at Kauffman Stadium four days ago, the 32-year-old right-hander hit another rut, giving up 11 runs and 23 hits in nine innings of a two-start span.
But Blanton, a pitch-to-contact guy by nature, points out that 19 of those hits were singles and he doesn't believe that the rough patch is a true indication of the way he's been pitching lately.
"It's like a hitter when he goes up and he's 0-for-4 and he's hit four line drives right at somebody," he said. "On paper, he's 0-for-4, but he had good swings that day. It's kind of that way."
Hanson's return leaves Scioscia with choice
LOS ANGELES -- Tommy Hanson's next start is expected to come with the Angels, manager Mike Scioscia confirmed on Monday.
Hanson threw a five-inning, 75-pitch simulated game on Saturday in Arizona and could start Friday's series opener against the Astros, if Scioscia opts to keep Joe Blanton in the rotation.
Hanson's next turn through the order is technically Thursday's series finale against the Dodgers, but Jason Vargas is starting that game on extended rest to accommodate Jered Weaver's return on Wednesday. Long reliever Jerome Williams (2.58 ERA on the year, 3.19 ERA in five starts) lines up to start on Friday and Blanton (1-7, 6.19 ERA) would line up to make his 11th start of the season on Sunday.
If Blanton struggles on Tuesday, Scioscia -- who didn't provide a specific return date for Hanson -- could have a decision to make between those two.
Hanson, 2-1 with a 3.86 ERA in five starts, has been on the restricted list since May 10 to deal with the aftermath of his step-brother's death.
Hamilton isn't surprised by Rangers' hot start
LOS ANGELES -- Josh Hamilton doesn't really stay up to date with what's going on in baseball. He doesn't watch MLB Network, he doesn't scroll Twitter for updates -- heck, he doesn't even have Internet access on his cell phone.
"It makes life a lot better to live, man," Hamilton said. "It's a lot less stressful when you don't have to worry about who said this and who wrote this."
But the Angels' right fielder has heard that his former Rangers team is off to another flying start, with an American League-best 32-19 record, a 3 1/2-game first-place cushion and, most glaringly, an 8 1/2-game cushion over Hamilton's new team.
"I don't think I've made a bad decision by any means," Hamilton said when asked about the Rangers' hot start. "I feel like I am where I'm supposed to be. Every team, for the most part during a season, goes through somewhat of a little slump. It goes back to who's hot at the right time. So if we continue winning, other teams will struggle at some point."
The Angels went into Monday night's Freeway Series opener at Dodger Stadium riding a season-high eight-game winning streak that has seen them gain three games on the Rangers, who lost their second straight game on Monday. But Texas opened 2013 with plenty of breathing room -- much like 2012 -- despite losing Hamilton and clubhouse leader Michael Young, and despite being without the likes of pitchers Neftali Feliz, Matt Harrison, Colby Lewis and Joakim Soria.
Hamilton isn't surprised.
"Pitching's pitching," he said. "When you can have a little bit of offense and you have guys that are getting the job done on the mound and you play defense, you win ball games. It's just being consistent with all those things."
• Angels reliever Sean Burnett was slated to visit a doctor on Monday regarding the forearm irritation that prompted him to exit Sunday's game in the seventh inning. Scioscia said it's "in a different area" from the previous issue that forced him to miss 22 games on the disabled list earlier this season.
"I'm not really concerned; it is what it is," Burnett said Monday. "I have no control over that. It's just frustrating not being able to play and help my teammates."
• Hamilton has yet to see an allergist regarding his sinus issues. He was told to finish his current round of antibiotics first to see if that takes care of the issue. Hamilton still feels sinus congestion on most days.
• Peter Bourjos, placed on the DL four weeks ago with a left hamstring strain, resumed his running routine for the first time on Monday, jogging a third of the way on the warning track between foul poles, sprinting a third and then jogging the final third. The Angels center fielder is still a couple weeks away from returning.
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.