Hamilton clarifies: He 'would love' to stay a Ranger

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Josh Hamilton doesn't think people understood the full context of his comment on Friday when he said, "I don't feel like I owe the Rangers."

Hamilton tried to clarify his comments on Sunday, emphasizing that he enjoys playing for the Texas Rangers and is hopeful to reach a contract extension with them. If he winds up on the free- agent market, the Rangers will be the first team he talks to.

"If I owe anything, it's that," Hamilton said. "My loyalty is here. This is where I've been. This is where my family has been. So obviously I would love to stay here more than anywhere else. So, first of all, they get a chance to do what they've got to do to keep me here."

Hamilton said he doesn't expect to reach a deal in spring training, although he isn't opposed to signing a contract during the season. Hamilton isn't focused on it, though, saying he'll leave it up to his agent, Mike Moye.

"It doesn't matter if they talk during the season as long as I don't know about it," Hamilton said. "Just call me when it's worth something talking about."

Hamilton addressed his contract status during a news conference on Friday, and said everything remained on hold because his second known relapse with alcohol this off-season changed priorities.

He went on to say, however, that he doesn't feel like he "owes" the Rangers, which created some backlash by fans.

"If fans aren't getting the whole story, then they jump to conclusions and rip me a new one, which is fine," Hamilton said. "... There's going to be people who don't like what I say if they don't get all their information."

Opening speech

Ron Washington wasn't too pleased when his speech before Game 7 of the World Series last season was leaked to a sports blog. He didn't dwell on it, though, and delivered his annual spring training speech Sunday.

What was his message?

"Just about our young pitchers continuing to get better and not taking a step back," Washington said. "Our offense staying healthy because they're the guys we're depending on to produce daily. Continuing to tighten up on the fundamental part of the game.

"Just to enjoy and have fun. We are the champions of the American League, and we can play. Let's take care of the business of baseball so when April rolls around, we're ready to go. That was the message."

Not the entire message. Washington said he talked about last season and the pain of losing a second consecutive World Series, but wanted to keep that part of his speech inside the clubhouse.

Michael Young and Joe Nathan also spoke at the meeting. Washington encouraged Nathan to address the team.

"When he kind of called me out a little bit, I just talked about what [last year's World Series] looked like from the outside in," Nathan said. "For me, watching that, they were the better team. What happened is baseball. Stuff happens in this game that sometimes is unexplainable. That doesn't mean they weren't the better team. I told them how excited I am to be here and they have nothing to be ashamed about."

Drew Davison, 817-390-7760

Twitter: @drewdavison

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