Baseball: Hamilton admits relapse with alcohol
ANAHEIM, Calif. ó Texas Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton once again addressed his troubled history with alcohol abuse, after a Web site published photos of him cavorting with several scantily clad women in a bar last January.
Hamilton created headlines last season with his inspired comeback from the depths of alcoholism and drug abuse to lead the major leagues in RBIs and nearly win the Home Run Derby.
The All-Star stood at his locker at Angel Stadium a couple hours before game time Saturday and told about a dozen reporters how much he regretted what happened at a bar in Tempe, Ariz. Prior to this latest episode, Hamilton said he hadn’t drank since Oct. 6, 2005.
“I always knew there would be a chance it would come out,” said Hamilton, who has three daughters. “I believe I got to the point where if you have alcohol in your system, your inhibitions go out the window. The details don’t matter ó what kind of drink it was. It just put me in a bad situation.”
Hamilton said he had gone for something to eat when he decided to have a drink. A dozen photos posted on Deadspin.com show the Texas slugger taking shots off the bar, and dancing and hugging several young women.
“I’m embarrassed about it for my wife Katie, for my kids and for the organization,” Hamilton said. “I’m not perfect. It’s an ongoing struggle, and it’s real. It’s amazing how these things can creep back in. But I am human and I have struggles.”
When the Rangers acquired the 28-year-old outfielder from the Cincinnati Reds on Dec. 21, 2007, they were aware of Hamilton’s off-the-field problems and came out with a “zero tolerance” policy regarding his drinking.
“If I think I can have one drink, I think I can have two, and then it snowballs to 10 or 12,” Hamilton said. “As soon as it happened, I called my support staff ó Katie, the organization and MLB ó and told them what happened. I was open and honest about it. People with an addiction can make a mistake.”
Rangers general manager Jon Daniels spoke with Hamilton in the clubhouse Saturday before they addressed the media, and said later the tone of their conversation had a different kind of emotion than the one in January because of the time Hamilton’s had to think about it.
“I’d hesitate to say it’s something we’re going to put behind us, but we’re not going to allow this to become a distraction the rest of the season and we’ll try to move on as best we can,” Daniels said.
The Rangers, who entered Saturday trailing the Angels by 31/2 games in the AL West, have not discussed punitive measures in case there is a recurrence. But Daniels said Hamilton will not be taking a leave of absence.
“That would be counterproductive,” Daniels said. “We knew that going in when we acquired Josh. We know the risks of dealing with someone with substance abuse problems. Ultimately, he’s a grown man and he has to make his own decisions. Nobody’s here to baby-sit him, but we should help him make the right decisions and help him get through this.”
When asked whether he will make a formal apology to his teammates in private, Hamilton said: “More than likely. I don’t necessarily know when it would be, but I won’t let it linger too long. What I do off the field affects my teammates and the name of this organization. They know who I am and what I want to accomplish.”