So when he tells you that going through free agency made for the easiest winter he’s ever had, you believe him.
“To be honest with you, it was easy,” the Los Angeles Angels’ new rightfielder said following Monday’s workouts at Tempe Diablo Stadium. “Everybody talked about how stressful it would be. It wasn’t. It was probably the least stressful offseason I’ve had. Ever.”
He went on to explain that the peace he feels every day is because of his deeply religious belief system.
“That’s the cool thing about having a relationship with the Lord,” said Hamilton, who will make his spring debut in Tempe on Tuesday against the Arizona Diamondbacks. “He takes a lot of (the stress) on him, as he’s willing to do. We just prayed and followed his direction, and believe me, I was shocked when he said ‘California’ — before they even called.”
Probably not as shocked as most Angels fans and even more Texas Rangers fans, who were devastated to see one of the greatest players in franchise history bolt to the enemy for a five-year, $125-million deal.
“It was exciting,” he said. “All you have to do is listen to what He says to you.”
The Rangers and their fans got another unexpected chance to listen to Hamilton comment about them and their franchise nine days ago. He told a CBS TV station in Dallas that “there are true baseball fans in Texas, but it’s not a true baseball town,” stirring up the populace and the media with his comments. “They’re supportive, but they also got a little spoiled at the same time pretty quickly.”
Long-time Dallas Morning News columnist Tim Cowlishaw said that Hamilton was angry at getting booed for poor play down the stretch last season as the Rangers blew the AL West title to Oakland. And that he was just as upset that the Rangers didn’t do more to try and keep him when he became a free agent.
Said Cowlishaw: “To me Josh is just talking out of anger. And he’s saying stupid things, which is not surprising given who he surrounds himself with. The right way to go about it would be to say, ‘I gave the Rangers everything I had for five years and I’m sorry management didn’t see keeping me as a priority but I always loved the fans.’ You dump on management when you leave. You don’t dump on the fans. Just stupid. Oh, and as far as which is a baseball town, I doubt that Hamilton knows the Rangers draw as many fans as the Angels. But the real point is he should never have gone after the fans. Does he think he wouldn’t have been booed had he finished a season like that as a Yankee or a Phillie? Seriously?”
Hamilton said that that he isn’t angry at the fans or the Rangers, that he was just making an observation.
“”Everybody takes things in different ways,” Hamilton said, adding, “I live in Texas. Texas is home for me. The last thing I would do is bash the fans.
“If you watch the full interview, you also hear me say that I love (the fans), and I really appreciate all the support they’ve given me and my family over the years. It was a place I was supposed to be at the time I was there, and I really enjoyed my time there. That’s why we can continue to consider it home.”
If you’re an Angel fan, get used to seeing this side of Hamilton. He’s a man who isn’t afraid to say what he’s thinking, which is something general manager Jerry Dipoto likes about the slugger.
“He has fit in extraordinarily well so far,” Dipoto said.
“He’s a bit of a firefly — he doesn’t sit still for too long. He’s moving around that clubhouse, he’s active and energetic — and a bit of a comedian. He gets along very well with his teammates, and I think it’s been encouraging.
“It’s also been fascinating to watch how far he hits the ball.”
Which is the real bottom line.
Hamilton’s baseball skills are why he’s with the Angels, and as long as he keeps averaging over 100 RBIs per season, plays great defense and helps the Halos win, they will continue to support him in every way possible.
Because of a well-documented battle with substance abuse — and a pair of slip-ups in the past four years — Hamilton travels with a “life coach.” Shayne Kelley’s primary job is to keep the 31-year-old from slipping back to any bad habits. However, he also has a baseball background, having been a minor league coach for Kansas City. He helps out on the field by throwing batting practice and with other baseball functions, which makes fitting-in a little more seamless.
“We’re all a support group for each other,” Angels’ manager Mike Scioscia said. “Each player has his own set of things that could become distractions.
“In Josh’s case, I think he has a handle on what he needs to do, and he’s very candid about what he needs to do and where he wants to be.
“I don’t think Josh’s needs bring any more — or less — burden to this team. He has a life coach, it’s part of our organization now, and we embrace it. And we’re all part of that support group — not just for Josh, but for every player.”
Hamilton says he’s enjoyed every second with the Angels since reporting to Tempe.
“This is a great club,” said the North Carolina native. “It’s fun just getting here in the morning and going through one of Scioscia’s clubhouse meetings — which is a lot of fun. And on the field we have a chance to be a great team. I love being here and I love being around my teammates.