Rangers' Hamilton confirms alcohol relapse
ARLINGTON, Texas. – Josh Hamilton shed no tears and used no prepared statement as he apologized and shared few details about his relapse with alcohol. Still, it was clear he was upset by what he had done.
The Texas Rangers slugger and recovering drug addict said he had "three or four" drinks during dinner at a Dallas restaurant and bar Monday and continued drinking later that night.
"Things happened that me, personally, I'm not proud of after I drank, and they are personal and are being handled as that," he said Friday during a news conference called specifically to address the incident. "Knowing this was going to get out in social media, Twitter, people get excited. There was no pictures taken of me having a beer with somebody or anything like that, but I did take pictures with people."
Hamilton didn't elaborate or give any real indication about what those things were.
Hamilton was suspended for more than three years for drug and alcohol use while in the Tampa Bay organization. The former No. 1 overall draft pick missed the entire 2003, 2004 and 2005 seasons, but has become one of the best players in baseball on a team that has won the last two American League pennants. He was the AL MVP in 2010.
The 30-year-old Hamilton said his latest actions "hurt a lot of people very close to me." He closed his eyes at one point and seemed to force a smile another time. He didn't take questions during his 12-minute appearance.
Without being specific, Hamilton said he had a "weak moment" that stemmed from "personal reasons" involving a family member. He said he walked to a restaurant to have dinner and ended up "ordering a drink, and probably had three or four drinks."
Hamilton said he did not take any drugs, and had no thoughts of doing so. He said he has been tested for drugs twice since Monday, part of his normal mandated routine.
This is Hamilton's second known alcohol-related relapse in three years. Both came during the offseason, and this one has put on hold talks with the Rangers about a contract extension.
After his public apology earlier in the day, Hamilton appeared as scheduled Friday night at a Christian men's rally in Katy, Texas, near Houston. He again didn't take any questions and spoke only to the congregation.
"I could hide in shame, and not show up tonight and be withdrawn, but I didn't want to do that," Hamilton told the group while reiterating his Christian faith. "I'm doing what I had to do today. I am fessing up. I am going to be a man about it; I am fessing up. People are going to call me a hypocrite, but I am a sinful man."
In January 2009, he drank to excess in a bar in Tempe, Ariz. He apologized for that a few months later when a dozen or so pictures were posted online showing Hamilton taking shots off the bar, and dancing and hugging several young women. He said then that he had been sober since October 2005.
Hamilton and general manager Jon Daniels said the outfielder will meet soon with Major League Baseball doctors and counselors in New York for an evaluation in his continued recovery.
"My life in general is based on making the right choices, everything as far as my recovery, as far as my baseball goes, it's all based around my relationship with the Lord," Hamilton said earlier at Rangers Ballpark. "And I look at it like that, you all know how hard I play on the field and I give it everything I absolutely have. When I don't do that off the field, I leave myself open for a weak moment."
After having a few drinks with dinner, Hamilton called Ian Kinsler to come hang out with him.
Hamilton said Kinsler didn't know he had been drinking, and that he never had a drink in front of his teammate, even when they left before the restaurant closed and went to another place nearby for 25-30 minutes. Then Kinsler drove him back to where he was staying not far away.
Though Hamilton told Kinsler he was not going anywhere else, Hamilton said he later returned to the place they had left and had more drinks.
Daniels, who was out of town and spoke on a later conference call, was asked if he was concerned that the incident was more than just Hamilton having a few drinks. The GM referred to Hamilton saying that alcohol had led the outfielder to some things he wasn't proud of.
"I don't know. I wasn't there," Daniels said. "That's how Josh wants to address those things right now."
In Twitter posts Friday, Hamilton's wife, Katie, wrote: "Truly appreciate all the encouraging & supportive tweets we've been getting. God is Faithful and forgives- so thankful that you all are ... Showing us such love and encouragement during this time."
When the Rangers acquired him from the Cincinnati Reds in December 2007, they were aware of Hamilton's off-the-field problems. He is tested for drug use three times a week and has had an accountability partner to support him in his recovery — though that job is now vacant.
Assistant hitting coach Johnny Narron's primary role was to support the former No. 1 overall draft pick, but Narron left the Rangers in November for Milwaukee.
The Rangers announced last month that Hamilton's father-in-law had been hired as a staff special assistant to be the accountability partner, but Michael Dean Chadwick has since decided against accepting that position because of "family considerations."
Daniels said the team was close to hiring someone for the job, a process that was already in the final stages before the latest incident. He said an announcement could come next week.
But Daniels said such a person likely wouldn't have been with Hamilton during the offseason when he was home with his family, as was the case this week.
Hamilton can become a free agent after this season and had been talking to the Rangers about a contract extension.
"It would be nice if it was talking about a contract but we'll put that on the back burner for a while," Hamilton said before walking out of the room. Daniels concurred that he had agreed with Hamilton's agent, Mike Moye, that contract talks would be put on hold. Daniels said there was no timetable for resuming them.
While Daniels said Hamilton's relapse created a number of emotions, including disappointment, the GM said the overriding concern was for Hamilton and his family. Hamilton and his wife have four daughters, the youngest born last summer.
"For everybody who I have hurt, for everybody — fans, kids, people who have addictions and look up to me — I apologize to you," he said. "When you're doing this, you don't mean to hurt anybody. You only think you're hurting yourself. But as I know, you're hurting a lot of people."