The Texas Rangers plan to make Josh Hamilton feel comfortable back in the clubhouse and assure him that he doesn’t need to do too much and needs to just be like anyone else.
Hamilton, though, isn’t anyone else. He is an addict, and the daily battle with the disease makes his bad days worse than anyone else experiences.
The Rangers, especially Hamilton’s former teammates, know that. They wrapped their arms around him and were there for him whenever he needed it from 2008-2012, and that’s not going to change when he joins them Monday in Cleveland.
“The best way to say it is as long as we’re there for him all the time,” right-hander Colby Lewis said. “That’s being a good teammate, really. If anybody needed you around, then you do that for them. I think that’s what makes good teams.
“That’s why we were so good in 2010 and ’11. We were all buddies. We all had a good time together, and there was always that sense of camaraderie. We all had each others’ backs.”
Prince Fielder was playing in the National League for most of Hamilton’s heyday, but he holds the same feelings as Lewis about chemistry and is also ready to lend a ear whenever Hamilton needs it.
“We want people to feel comfortable,” Fielder said. “It’s a family for eight months. That’s what teams do, regardless of what you’re dealing with. We’re family. You have to be. That’s the only way that teams become great.”
Manager Jeff Banister could be leaned on more than the players. Hamilton sought counsel from former manager Ron Washington’s ear often, and Banister would be open to doing the same.
“I encourage them to have conversations more with me other than just baseball,” Banister said. “I want to know what’s doing on in their life. It is important to me. I care about them about a person first. They’re going to be a person a lot longer than they’re going to be a baseball player.”
The Rangers have rehired Shayne Kelley as Hamilton’s daily accountability partner, and he has been with Hamilton since he was traded by the Los Angeles Angels last month.
The Rangers have monitored the unrest that took place Saturday in Cleveland after police officer Michael Brelo was acquitted of manslaughter charges in the death of two unarmed suspects.
Some protests turned violent Saturday night after the verdict was read, including an incident at Quickens Loans Arena next to Progressive Field.
The Rangers have been left with a sense that the situation isn’t as volatile as the riots that took place earlier this year in Ferguson, Mo., and Baltimore after other police-involved deaths of suspects.
Players will be told to be more cautious than normal and advised to take team buses or a taxi cab rather than walking to and from Progressive Field.
“I think we’ll let them know what the landscape is,” Banister said. “I’m sure they watch the news.”
▪ Left-hander Matt Harrison will make a fourth start in extended spring training Thursday, then head to Arlington on Sunday for a bullpen session. If all goes well, he could go on a rehab assignment in early June. Harrison was hoping to begin an assignment this week.
▪ If any Rangers regular gets a day off during the three-game series at Cleveland, it could be Shin-Soo Choo. Adrian Beltre was a candidate until getting a few innings off Saturday, and Elvis Andrus has a .396 career average at Progressive Field.
▪ The Rangers signed right-handed reliever Jared Burton to a minor league contract and sent him to Triple A Round Rock. Burton, a former Boston and Minnesota reliever, opened the season in the Yankees’ organization before being released May 16.
Jeff Wilson, 817-390-7760