Gil LeBreton

Hamilton’s latest setback not really a Rangers surprise

Josh Hamilton talks about his knee injury and stem cell therapy during Texas Rangers spring training in Surprise, Arizona.
Josh Hamilton talks about his knee injury and stem cell therapy during Texas Rangers spring training in Surprise, Arizona. rmallison@star-telegram.com

The news broke Monday afternoon that outfielder Josh Hamilton will undergo yet-another knee surgery and be lost to the Texas Rangers for the rest of the 2016 season.

Years from now, Rangers fans will remember where they were when they heard the news.

Or probably not.

Hamilton’s attempt to return from two previous surgeries on his troubled left knee were becoming less and less of a footnote to the season with each passing day.

No personal offense is meant to Josh. He was the American League’s most valuable player in 2010, and the Rangers would never have made the World Series without him. He forever will remain a central figure in some of the franchise’s most memorable moments.

But the Rangers moved on, frankly, the day that free agent Ian Desmond signed with the team (Feb. 29) to play the outfield.

The turning of the page was conspicuous. Instead of gathering around Hamilton’s locker at spring training, asking him how his knee rehab was going, the media gang in Surprise immediately circled the upbeat Desmond.

Instead of a starting outfield of Shin-Soo Choo, Delino DeShields and a daily vigil for Hamilton, the Rangers have Desmond, exciting rookie Nomar Mazara and either Ryan Rua or whoever earned the latest promotion (Jared Hoying) from Round Rock or Frisco.

Choo needs to get healthy and back in the lineup. But in the meantime, I’d call the Rangers’ current outfield situation an upgrade from the headache that it could have been.

There was more than a little irony that the news on Hamilton came just as a series with the Los Angeles Angels was about to begin. The Angels are on the hook for $26,410,000 of Hamilton’s $28,410,000 salary for this season and next.

General manager Jon Daniels said that Hamilton plans to return in 2017, etc., etc. But Josh will turn 36 next season, and evidence is mounting that his playing career may be done.

Remember where you were when you heard the news.

Or (yawn) maybe not.

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