ATLANTA -- Barely one week removed from this year's First-Year Player Draft, Angels pitcher and Columbus, Ga., native Cory Rasmus made his return to Turner Field, home of the club that made him its first-round pick with the 38th overall selection in the 2006 Draft.
Although Atlanta traded Rasmus to the Angels for left-handed reliever Scott Downs last July, Rasmus has fond memories of his time with the organization that he described as "the closest one to my house."
"As a young kid, we always came to Atlanta to watch the Braves play," said Rasmus, who made his Major League debut at Turner Field on May 22, 2013. "So getting the chance to come play here and make it to the big leagues for a little bit was pretty awesome just to have that experience."
Rasmus said his parents, his younger brothers (older brother and Blue Jays center fielder Colby is busy on a rehab assignment) and his wife will be in Atlanta to watch him play this weekend.
Perhaps some friendly faces will help Rasmus put his struggles in limited action this season behind him. He has surrendered four earned runs in seven innings of relief. Manager Mike Scioscia believes Rasmus just needs to translate his talent to results.
"He needs to control counts, needs to have the command of the secondary pitches to really be able to be effective against hitters in a good role in the bullpen," Scioscia said. "I think from last year to this year, he's made great strides and hopefully, he'll continue to do it because he has a terrific arm."
Hamilton raking due to relaxed approach at plate
ATLANTA -- As Angels outfielder Josh Hamilton returned to the lineup on June 3 after undergoing left thumb surgery in April, he kept in mind a lesson he has learned through numerous injuries during his baseball career.
"You can't make up for lost time, but you can do and help from this point forward," Hamilton said. "It helps keep you a little more calm than you might normally be."
Hamilton may be calm, but opposing pitchers have been anything but since he rejoined the lineup. He entered Friday's series opener against the Braves batting .440 (11-for-25) with three doubles, six RBIs and four multi-hit games during a six-game hitting streak.
"It feels good," Hamilton said of his thumb. "There was a little adjustment getting back, getting jammed with pitches and things like that, but it's to the point now where it bounces back pretty quick and I'm not really thinking about it too much."
Hamilton's recent tear is much like the success he has enjoyed in the Majors since bursting onto the scene with the Rangers in 2008. Braves catcher Gerald Laird, who was Hamilton's teammate in Texas that season, can tell when the slugger is locked in.
"He can cover so many pitches. He's that type of hitter. He's a superstar-type hitter," Laird said. "When they get hot, they can cover multiple pitches -- in and out, up and down. And it's one of those things, he's one of those guys you don't want to let beat you. But I've seen him do well, I've seen him struggle and right now, he's swinging the bat pretty well."
Hamilton backed up Laird's assessment, chalking up his ability to put the bat on the ball so consistently to his comfort level at the plate. It was a feeling he had even before his injury as he was batting .444 (12-for-27) before going down on April 8 in Seattle.
"When you're feeling good, you can expand the zone a little bit better and a little bit more and swing at pitches you normally try not to when it's not going good," Hamilton said. "I'm in a spot where I'm feeling good, so pitches that might be questionable, I'm still able to get a good swing on it."
Skaggs nearing return from hamstring strain
ATLANTA -- The Angels are targeting next weekend as a return date for left-hander Tyler Skaggs, who sustained a right hamstring strain on June 5 in Houston. Manager Mike Scioscia said the southpaw will likely not need a rehab assignment.
"He's right now long tossing and hopefully early this week, he'll be able to get off the mound to throw a [bullpen session]," Scioscia said. "And then, we'll have an idea of exactly when he'll be ready."
Skaggs, who is on the 15-day disabled list, ran in the outfield on Friday, cutting and going through agility drills without any pain or issues with his hamstring. Skaggs has previously run on an AlterG, an anti-gravity treadmill, but he was happy to be back on grass and dirt.
"Everything's good," Skaggs said before Friday's series opener against the Braves. "I'm slowly coming back. Worked out today and everything felt good. Slowly but surely coming back out."
Joe Morgan is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.