Texas Rangers outfielder and recovering drug addict Josh Hamilton said Friday that he had a relapse that started with ”three or four” drinks at a Dallas-area bar this week, apologizing for a ”weak moment” that he said he will try to make sure doesn’t happen again.
The 30-year-old player said he didn’t get into any trouble during Monday night’s relapse, though he admitted that he was in pictures with various passers-by.
He said his actions ”are mine that hurt a lot of people very close to me.”
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 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.
Hamilton said he has not taken any drugs, and had no thoughts of doing so. He said he has been tested for drugs twice since Monday, part of his normal routine. He said he expects to meet soon with Major League Baseball doctors in New York.
It is Hamilton’s second known alcohol-related relapse in three years. In January 2009, he drank to excess in a bar in Tempe, Ariz. Before that, Hamilton said he had been sober since Oct. 6, 2005.
In Twitter posts, 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.”
Hamilton spoke for about 12 minutes without using any prepared notes or taking any questions. Though there were no tears, he struggled with his emotions at times. He closed his eyes at one point, forced a smile at another time.
”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. ”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.”
Without being specific, Hamilton said that weak moment Monday night came for ”personal reasons” with a family member. He said he walked to a restaurant to have dinner and ended up ordering ”three or four drinks” before calling 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.
Thought Hamilton told Kinsler he was not going anywhere else, Hamilton said he later returned to the place they had left had had more drinks.
”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. ”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.”
Months after the 2009 incident, a dozen or so pictures were posted online showing Hamilton taking shots off the bar, and dancing and hugging several young women. He publicly apologized and did so again Friday.
When the Rangers acquired him from the Cincinnati Reds in December 2007, they were aware of Hamilton’s off-the-field problems and had a zero-tolerance policy regarding his drinking. 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.”
Hamilton can become a free agent after this season and had said he didn’t want to negotiate an extension after he reports to spring training. He had planned to leave for spring training on Feb. 17, a full week before the full-squad reporting date in Arizona.
”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.
Hamilton hit .298 with 25 homers and 94 RBIs last season when the Rangers won their second consecutive AL pennant. He missed 36 games early in the season because of a broken bone in his arm suffered on a play at the plate against the Tigers. The season also was marred by the death of a firefighter who fell from the stands while trying to catch a ball for his son that was thrown by Hamilton.
When the playoffs began, the boy, 6-year-old Cooper Stone, threw out the ceremonial first pitch to Hamilton, his favorite player. The scene brought 50,000 fans to their feet, many with tears in their eyes, and Hamilton was deeply touched.
”Just to see the smile on his face and him enjoying himself,” Hamilton said after the game, ”it was pretty special to see.”
Hamilton said the Rangers have shown nothing but support to him and told him this week they would continue to support him. He said he knows he’s let a lot of people down beside himself and his family.
”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.”