BY:  Richard W. Humphrey

Thursday afternoon, reports began to surface that Rangers’ outfielder Josh Hamilton had taken some drinks last Monday night.  Details were and are still sketchy, but Hamilton addressed local media for approximately 15 minutes this afternoon at a 1:00 PM press conference at Rangers’ Ballpark in Arlington.

Hamilton said that he had gone out to eat and afterward, stopped in the bar side of the place and had “some drinks”.  Hamilton did not mention the name of the place, but it has been reported to be Sherlock’s Baker Street Pub and Grill at Park Lane and North Central Expressway in Dallas.  He later called Ian Kinsler, who lives a short distance from Sherlock’s, who proceeded to join him.  Hamilton claims that he is very good at hiding his problem, that he didn’t drink while Kinsler was with him, and that they didn’t have drinks together.  He believes that Kinsler was not aware that he had been drinking, and absolved him from any blame for the incident. After Kinsler left, Hamilton indicated he went back to the bar and consumed some more alcoholic beverages.  He did not mention the type of alcoholic beverages he consumed.

Hamilton certainly expressed his regret over the incident.  “It’s just wrong.  That’s all it comes down to.  I am hurt by it.  More for my wife and kids.”  He said twice that he needs to work as hard to fight his alcoholic addition as he plays on the field.  He mentioned early on that he had some sort of personal issue that had upset him and undoubtedly set off the incident, but he didn’t give any detail about the issue.  He also indicated that he would soon be going to New York to meet with counselors for both Major League Baseball and the MLB Players’ Union.

Apparently the incident was limited to alcoholic beverages.  Hamilton said he has taken and passed two drug tests since Monday night.

The Rangers have in the past had a companion on their payroll to look after Hamilton to avoid such situations.  That companion has been Johnny Narron, brother of former Rangers’ coach and manager, Jerry Narron.  In addition to watching out for Hamilton, Narron was also the Rangers’ assistant hitting coach.  He was passed over for the permanent hitting coach position at least twice when Clint Hurdle left to manage Pittsburgh after the 2010 season, and again last summer when Hurdle’s replacement, Thad Bosley, was fired.  Narron left the Rangers’ organization after last season to become the Milwaukee Brewwers’ hitting coach.  Hamilton has thus been without a companion for at least sixty days, though there is word that the Rangers expect to announce later today that they have hired Narron’s replacement.

There has been talk of Hamilton signing a new contract, as his present contract expires at the end of this season.  Hamilton has said he wants this done before the start of spring training, which is less than three weeks away, as once spring training begins, he wants to concentrate on playing baseball and not be distracted by contract negotiations.  Hamilton is reportedly seeking a contract in the very nice neighborhood of six years totalling $120 million.  There has always been reluctance on the Rangers’ part to commit long term because of Hamilton’s past drug and alcohol abuse problems, and the team is said to be interested in committing to no more than four additional years.  The impact of this drinking incident on a contract extension is not immediately known, but it isn’t positive.

After completing his statement, which was given without benefit of notes or a script, Hamilton did not answer questions from the media.  He closed by saying, “It’d been nice if were talking about a contract.  We’ll put that on the back burner fight now.”

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