Texas Rangers

Where have you gone, Josh Hamilton?

This weekend at Globe Life Park is almost entirely dedicated to Vladimir Guerrero, who spent the final two seasons of his career with the weekend’s on-field foes, the Texas Rangers and Baltimore Orioles.

In essence, though, celebrating Vlad is also to celebrate the 2010 Rangers, the team that holds a place in his heart because it took him to the only World Series of his career.

The players who lifted the Rangers to their first American League pennant are all gone, save for shortstop Elvis Andrus. Three of them have found employment as assistants to general manager Jon Daniels.

But the best player on that team, the best player in baseball that season, at times is nowhere to be found.

Josh Hamilton was supposed to be at the annual Dr Pepper Hall of Fame luncheon Friday before the Rangers and Orioles continued their Battle of the Rebuilders. No one is being inducted this year, but Guerrero is being recognized for being inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame last weekend.

Hamilton begged off late Thursday from the Friday festivities — a round-table interview during the luncheon and a session with the media. Something came up, he told the Rangers.

Stuff happens. Really. Any parent, for instance, can attest to how quickly plans can change.

But it didn’t feel quite right, not after the Rangers tried and tried to get him to come before he finally agreed. They announced he was coming as recently as Thursday, but had to send out a release Friday morning saying he was out.

Apparently, Hamilton has changed his phone number multiple times the past year and spends a great deal of time working his ranch near Waco when he doesn’t have custody of his daughters.

Daniels said that he has been in contact with Hamilton within the past few months, and David Murphy heard from him recently, too.

There is no evidence that Hamilton, whose MLB career was derailed by substance abuse and who has had at least three falls from the wagon, has given in to his disease. The Rangers know from past dealings with him that he can be unreliable.

But don’t think that people weren’t thinking the worst Friday while hoping for the best.

The best is what Hamilton was in 2010, when he batted .359 with 32 homers and 100 RBIs in only 133 games. He was the MVP of the AL Championship Series, which the Rangers won in six games over the New York Yankees.

In the clincher, the Yankees intentionally walked Hamilton with two outs in the fifth to get to Guerrero, who drilled a double to center field. Mitch Moreland scored from third and Hamilton scored from first for a 3-1 lead.

Nelson Cruz followed with a two-run homer.

“I remember they walked Hamilton twice ahead of me,” Guerrero said Friday. “I was thinking I had to do something, and I was fortunate to hit a double that scored two runs.”

The Rangers were ousted from their first World Series in five games by the San Francisco Giants, but a few weeks later Hamilton was an easy winner of the MVP award in November.

Guerrero was off to Baltimore for his final season, and the Rangers signed third baseman Adrian Beltre in the off-season. Another World Series followed, and Hamilton was again the best player on the planet early in 2012 before tailing off and then sailing off to the Los Angeles Angels in the off-season.

He came back in 2015 via a trade after the Angels tired of him following another relapse while rehabbing an injury in Houston. Hamilton was productive when healthy that season, but he was never healthy again as a balky knee essentially ended his career.

He rehabbed from yet another knee surgery and wondered if the Rangers would give him one more shot this season. They declined.

Hamilton hasn’t turned in his retirement paperwork with MLB, which still considers him a free agent after the Rangers released him from his minor-league contract in April 2017.

The Rangers want to establish a post-baseball relationship with Hamilton, one of five MVP winners in franchise history. The Rangers will consider putting him in their Hall of Fame as soon as he retires.

Here’s hoping something doesn’t come up.

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