MLB

Hamilton: All-Star again with record 11M votes

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ARLINGTON, Texas (AP)

Five months ago, Texas Rangers slugger Josh Hamilton was in the same interview room at Rangers Ballpark apologizing for a relapse with alcohol.

This time, Hamilton was talking about how blessed he was for how many people voted for him to be an All-Star starter again.

Nearly 11.1 million votes, more than ever before for any player, were cast to send Hamilton to his fifth consecutive All-Star game.

''Oh man, that's crazy,'' Hamilton said after the All-Star rosters were announced Sunday. ''It just means a lot, fans vote you in, and to get that many votes is obviously pretty special. ... It's just as exciting this time as the first time.''

Hamilton's first All-Star appearance was in 2008 included that powerful display in the Home Run Derby at old Yankee Stadium by going deep 28 times in the first round. It was part of the inspiring story of the former No. 1 overall pick who then fell into the depths of drug and alcohol before overcoming his addictions and becoming one of the best players in the major leagues.

It was after his second known relapse with alcohol that Hamilton publicly apologized Feb. 3, weeks before spring training began.

''The biggest thing, everything that happened since the last time I was in this room, is realizing how I ended up in this room the first time,'' Hamilton said. ''And it always goes back to not doing the things that I need to do to live my life how I should live it, and that's obviously my relationship with Christ, and the fellowship and praying, getting in the (Bible), doing all those things.''

''It's pretty simple for me to look back on now, but I talked after the `09 incident, we just kind of swept it under the rug, `Oh, it happened, oh well.' After this one, we wanted to figure out what it was.''

Hamilton described himself at peace, on and off the field. He said it is important for him to be aware of things on a daily basis, and to surround himself with people who encourage and support him.

Despite hitting only .223 in June, Hamilton went into Sunday's games still sixth in the American League with a .319 average. His 25 homers matched his total of last season. His 73 RBIs going into the night matchup against Oakland were most in the majors.

''When things are good away from the field, I don't have to worry about things on the field,'' he said. ''You know, I haven't been stressed one bit this last month.''

Hamilton is among at least a record seven Rangers players who will join manager Ron Washington at the All-Star game in Kansas City on July 10.

Third baseman Adrian Beltre and catcher Mike Napoli were also voted AL starters by the fans. Pitchers Matt Harrison and Joe Nathan, along with second baseman Ian Kinsler and shortstop Elvis Andrus, are also going.

Japanese standout Yu Darvish is one of five AL pitchers in a fan vote that will determine the final member of the All-Star team.

''I'm going to say he's going to be in. I don't see it being a problem,'' Hamilton said, mentioning the international attention in Darvish as a possible reason for his record number of votes. ''Think anybody in Japan voted for me? I say, `Thank you, Yu for coming to the team.'''

As Washington put it, ''I know the fans in Texas love him. Now fans around the country, fans all over the world love Josh Hamilton, and just proved that.''

Hamilton insists there is no extra pressure on him to have that many people voting for him.

''I enjoy it. We're in the business of entertaining people, so when people vote and they want to see me go to the game, it helps me think that I'm entertaining them pretty well to go. Or they might think are going to see something special at the game,'' he said.

''No pressure, it's just a bigger stage for me to share Christ. That's my main goal. For people to still vote me in knowing that's my main goal, that says a lot about them and it's just a cool feeling.''

Tagged: Rangers, Josh Hamilton

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