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Homecoming for Hamilton

Nathan Hunsinger/DMN Staff Photographer

Josh Hamilton during a press conference about rejoining the Texas Rangers for the 2015 season at Globe Life Park in Arlington, Texas April 27, 2015.

Bodey Cooper, Editor-In-Chief

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It’s official Rangers fans, outfielder Josh Hamilton is headed back to the Texas Rangers.

The deal was officially announced on Monday afternoon just after 2:30 pm CT. Hamilton is headed to the Rangers, while cash considerations or a player to be named later will be headed to Anaheim. Hamilton has been rehabbing after offeseason shoulder surgery in Houston while with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. He has been ready since spring training he said, but the Angels management and coaches haven’t allowed him to play.

Hamilton played with the Rangers from 2008-2012, and was a five-time All-Star, as well as the 2010 American League Most Valuable Player. He helped the Rangers to back-to-back American League pennants and World Series appearances in 2010 and 2011. He also had the two-run home run in the top of the 10th inning that put the Rangers ahead of the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 6 of the 2011 World Series. The Rangers eventually lost in 11 innings, getting one strike away from a World Series Championship twice.

He eventually left the Rangers in free agency in December 2012 and signed a five-year, $125 million contract with the Angels. He struggled mightily in Anaheim, receiving criticism from both the fans as well as the Angels’ management behind closed doors.

Then there is the issue of his recent relapse into alcohol and drug use in February, which he personally revealed to Major League Baseball officials. He said that he had a fight with his wife, and went to the bank and cashed a check to himself, which he then used the cash from to purchase alcohol and cocaine. This was the third relapse for Hamilton, who has struggled with alcohol and drug addiction since he was the first overall pick in 1999 by the then Tampa Bay Devil Rays. He relapsed once in 2009 and again in 2012 in his first stint with the Rangers.

It was a strange trade, and one that had been brewing ever since it was made clear that the Angels’ management team was trying to move Hamilton after his most recent relapse. Hamilton made it clear that he wanted to return to the Rangers if he was going to be traded, even rejecting an offer to another team that would’ve allowed Hamilton to keep his full $83 million that was remaining on his five-year contract. As it stands now, the Rangers will pay Hamilton less than $7 million for the remaining three years on his contract, and the Angels will pay him $68 million for the next three seasons to not play for them. Hamilton will also give up over $6 million of his salary, given the fact that Texas has no state income tax, unlike California.

At his press conference on Monday afternoon at the Ballpark in Arlington, as he sat beside President and General Manager of the Rangers Jon Daniels, Hamilton had many things to say to the media, the fans and his old and new teammates and staff in Texas:

“”I’m excited to be back home,” the smiling Hamilton told the media. “I have a lot of good memories of Texas, a lot of big games won. For me, it is still the loudest ballpark I have ever played in. I’m excited about it. Playing baseball, being back with the Rangers and taking care of my girls, that is my priority.”

He also had to address his “baseball town” comment from back in 2013. “I’ve said some dumb things and I’ll continue to say dumb things. I’m not clarifying all the things I’ve said. I just want to let the fans know I’m back home, and I am going to give everything I’ve got just like before.”

Hamilton also said that a lot of the support pieces that were with him back in Texas in his first stint, which were gone during his time in Anaheim, are back with him now. He has many partners that help him maintain his finances, as well as help him maintain his sobriety whenever he’s on the road or out in public.

Hamilton also said that if the Angels wanted to help him hard enough, he would’ve been with them during Spring Training, and probably be playing with the team now.

“I haven’t been the player they wanted me to be, but I have worked my butt off to be that player,” Hamilton said. “I had some unfortunate injuries. I’m doing my best to eliminate distractions and be the best player I can be. I don’t feel I have anything to prove to anybody. But as a player and athlete, I want to play as long as I can.”

Hamilton received a chorus of boos whenever he returned to the Ballpark in Arlington in his first game as an Angel, which he said at the time hurt him because he gave it his all every night, and that it stung to not have their support. Their boos were understandable after his comments that Arlington was not a “baseball town”.

Hopefully this second stint with Texas is exactly what Hamilton needs, because he obviously wants to be here, or this trade would not have happened Monday. He had success here in the past, and hopefully the Rangers can strike lightning twice by reviving Hamilton’s career in Arlington.

“I have always placed expectations on myself that nobody else can place on me. The fact that I wasn’t the player I once was the past two years only adds fuel to the fire. Yes, I need baseball. I love baseball. I have been playing baseball since I was 3 years old. I’m excited to be back with the Rangers and I’m excited about playing in front of these fans again.”

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