February 7, 2012

Rangers hire accountability partner for Hamilton; Andrus gets deal

Shayne Kelley, a former coach and chaplain, is hired.

Josh Hamilton flew to New York on Monday to meet with doctors from Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association, and he had his new accountability partner alongside.

Shayne Kelley, who spent the past 15 years in baseball at various levels and was once Alabama's team chaplain, was hired a week after Hamilton's second public relapse with alcohol since 2009.

Kelley was recommended by Chuck Morgan, the Rangers' senior vice president of ballpark entertainment, and Hamilton's agent, Mike Moye. Kelley was in town last week for unrelated business and was able to meet with Hamilton after his relapse.

Kelley's official position is major league staff assistant. Because of his baseball background, including three seasons as a minor league strength coach in the Kansas City organization, he will be asked to perform other, baseball-related duties.

"He came highly recommended," general manager Jon Daniels said before the final stop on the Rangers Winter Caravan in Fort Worth. "We talked to a few different people, but his name was at the top of the list."

Kelley will travel with Hamilton during spring training and the season. Once they return to the ballpark, Kelley will have a role assisting coaches in various capacities.

Daniels said the Rangers aren't calling Kelley an "accountability partner."

"Josh is accountable for himself," Daniels said. "We want to do whatever we can to support him and put him in the best position to succeed as possible."

The Rangers aren't likely to discipline Hamilton, said Daniels, for drinking alcohol in a Dallas-area bar Jan. 30. The club will abide by whatever actions or recommendations MLB has for Hamilton, who also had a relapse with alcohol in January 2009.

It came to light eight months later as pictures were leaked to a website. Daniels said that the Rangers have heard the rumors that pictures and videos of Hamilton from last week exist, but said there's nothing the club can to do prevent anything from being leaked to the media.

Andrus' new deal

A source confirmed that the Rangers and shortstop Elvis Andrus have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a three-year deal worth approximately $14.5 million. The deal is pending Andrus passing a physical.

The deal wipes out all three of Andrus' arbitration years but does not include any option years that could prevent him from becoming a free agent before 2015.

Andrus, represented by Scott Boras, had been seeking $3.6 million in his first year of arbitration, and the Rangers submitted a 2012 contract figure of $2.65 million.

The Rangers had been scheduled for an arbitration hearing in Tampa, Fla., with Andrus Thursday, but the club could be headed to its first hearing since 2000 with Mike Napoli or Nelson Cruz.

The Rangers are $2 million apart from Cruz and differ with Napoli by $3.2 million. Cruz would go to a hearing Feb. 15 and Napoli on Feb. 17 if deals can't be struck.

Jeff Wilson, 817-390-7760

Twitter: @JeffWilson_fwst

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