ARLINGTON, Texas – Caffeine, chocolate and medicine proved to be a bad combination for Texas Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton.
Hamilton, who left last Tuesday’s game against Los Angeles because of an eye issue, was diagnosed with ocular keratitis. It caused Hamilton’s corneas to dry out and made his eyes feel like they were stuck open and transfixed on one spot.
The good news is that since Hamilton was diagnosed, he’s cut down on caffeine, chocolate, energy drinks and medication, all things that make the condition worse.
He was in the Texas starting lineup Monday in his familiar No. 3 spot and playing centerfield.
“It’s the same thing I had last year,” Hamilton said. “I got drops for it last year. Not knowing caffeine, chocolate, antihistamines, decongestant stuff and all that dries them out even worse.”
Hamilton knows that now and is feeling better. It showed Tuesday as Hamilton hit his 43rd homer of the season and scored twice in the 5-4 Texas victory over Oakland. Hamilton still had issues with his eyes drying out but thought that had more to do with the wind than his diagnosis. He carries eye drops in his pocket in the outfield.
Hamailton tested things at Rangers Ballpark, hitting and running the outfield. Hamilton left last Tueday’s game with what was then thought to be a sinus issue. He didn’t travel with the team to Seattle and returned to Texas for the diagnosis.
Hamilton said he started having issues in the team’s last home stand and it got worse. He left after two at-bats against the Angels. He said it was difficult to leave the team during the stretch run but he had to figure out what was causing the problem.
“The vision was fine,” Hamilton aid. “I would move my head and my eyes wouldn’t move. It just feels better now. It wasn’t impacting my vision. It was impacting my ability to be ready to play the game.”
Hamilton said he was drinking coffee in the morning and afternoons and then having an energy drink before games. He followed that up with chocolates. It didn’t help matters that when it was thought to be a sinus issue, he was taking medicine.
Texas manager Ron Washington said he had no problem putting Hamilton back in the lineup because the issue was solved.
While Hamilton was relieved that with the diagnosis, he also wasn’t surprised with it given his track record of odd issues. Hamilton had eye issues last year that affected him in day games, which turned out to be the same condition that’s affecting him now. He eventually settled on eye drops. He struggled at the plate earlier this year because he had a hard time giving up chewing tobacco.
“Dude it’s me we’re talking about here,” Hamilton said. “Guys it’s me, Josh. It’s going to be something weird. Just go with it.”