Josh Hamilton: 'I don't feel like I owe the Rangers'

No one with the Texas Rangers the past four seasons has doubted that Josh Hamilton has had the best intentions, and that was the case again Friday morning as he met with the media for the first time at this spring camp.

He spoke at length about the path he is taking to ensure that he doesn’t have another relapse with alcohol, opening the 36-minute session relaying from the Bible what the Lord had told him Thursday night.

Hamilton then answered questions about the recovery, his faith and, of course, Yu Darvish. Mixed in, though, he also answered questions about his contract situation, and all his good intentions were quickly overshadowed.

The 2010 American League MVP said that he won’t give the Rangers any extra consideration during upcoming contract negotiations for all the support they’ve shown since trading for him in 2007, and in the end said that he will be making a business decision with his next contract.

“The Rangers have done a lot for me, but I’ve got a question for ya’ll: Have I done a lot for the Rangers?” said Hamilton, who can become a free agent after the season.

“I think I’ve given them everything I’ve had, and I don’t think anybody can say I haven’t. When it comes down to it, what people don’t understand, is this is a business.

“I love Texas, I love my fans, I love the fans of the Rangers, I love the organization, I love my teammates, I love everything about it. But I’m not going to sit here and say I owe the Rangers, because I don’t feel like I owe the Rangers.”

The Rangers have carried an accountability partner on their payroll for each of Hamilton’s seasons with them, and they have stood behind him as he battles addictions to drugs and alcohol.

That includes two public relapses with alcohol, with the latest coming Jan. 30.

“I hate this happened,” Hamilton said. “They know the risks since they took me. I’ve done a lot of good here, and they’ve been good to me, too. There’s always ways to work things out, but I’m not stressing out over a long-term contract.

“I’m not going to jump at the first thing offered. I’m not, ‘This might happen at anytime. I better get what I can get when I can get it.’ I don’t feel that way. I feel very confident in my sobriety. I feel very confident in my relationship in Christ, and my family’s supporting me.”

General manager Jon Daniels did not attend the press conference but was briefed on what Hamilton said. The Rangers aren’t expecting Hamilton or agent Mike Moye to come to them with their hands out.

“The only thing that is ‘owed’ is fairness and to be open-minded,” Daniels said. “That’s with any player, really.”

Hamilton asked that the news conference not dwell on Jan. 30 as he took questions from the media for the first time since that night. No details were revealed about his relapse at a bar in North Dallas.

But baseball was only a fringe topic a day before position players have to report to the Surprise Recreation Campus. Hamilton is fine physically, and he said no one should worry about his mental state.

He has thrown himself into counseling, both one-on-one and with his wife, Katie. Major League Baseball has approved of the steps he is taking, he said.

Hamilton said that things are “really good” with Katie and their daughters after he discovered that he needs to be more open at home rather than shutting down when out of the baseball spotlight.

“It’s a welcome challenge,” said Hamilton, who read from the Bible five times during the press conference. “It’s a challenge that needs to happen. ... I do all that stuff when I’m at the field with kids, but it’s so much more important at home.”

Hamilton plans to speak with his teammates at some point during spring training to update them on his progress. He will ask that they help him be more accountable, and a few players said that they will do their part to make sure he stays sober.

Outfielder David Murphy said that the team supports Hamilton.

“It’s difficult,” Murphy said. “As a friend, as a teammate, I want to love on him, and I want to be here to help him in any way I can and help keep him accountable if I can.”

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