Eyes on Hamilton as Rangers prep for spring

The Texas Rangers report to spring training next week in Surprise, Ariz., and that can only mean one thing — expect the unexpected.
“It wouldn’t be a Rangers’ spring training without a little bit of crazy going on,” Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said.
Much of that craziness figures to center around Yu Darvish. The Rangers issued about 170 media credentials for spring training. That number normally is around 50. There will be more media facilities at the complex and more security to deal with the media and what’s expected to be a larger fan presence.
In addition to Darvish, plenty of attention will center on Josh Hamilton. Hamilton did an interview Wednesday night and while neither Daniels nor manager Ron Washington watched the interview, they both looked at partial transcripts of it.
Both stressed Thursday that the focus is on Hamilton getting things right with his family in wake of his alcohol relapse last month. They don’t expect Hamilton to have any issues with his baseball family inside the Texas clubhouse.
While the club doesn’t expect to discipline Hamilton, they will help him in any way they can.

“There will be some additional steps that we’ll take as a club, along with Josh, just to continue to support him and to ensure to the best of our abilities that this doesn’t happen again,” Daniels said. “We have more ability to help with that during the season. There won’t be any formal discipline.”

Hamilton talked on the show about how he’s going to counseling both by himself and with his wife Katie. Daniels said the team had talked with Hamilton about the idea before he went to New York to meet with Major League Baseball and that counseling was part of the recommendation from MLB.

The Rangers haven’t closed the door on signing Hamilton to a contract extension either. One thing that has changed is the timeline. Hamilton said before the relapse that he wanted a deal to get done before spring training. That timeline has now changed.

“There is no deadline,” Daniels said. “Given what transpired last month, everybody has agreed this is not the time to look at that. The priority is his recovery and his family and, second, getting ready for the season and not let the contract get in the way. We may address that at some point, but we’ll handle it privately.”

In addition to Hamilton, Daniels said the club could still talk with some of its other players this spring about extending contracts.

As for what to expect from Hamilton on the field, Washington said the Rangers want to try and take as much stress off his body as possible. That doesn’t mean Hamilton won’t play games in centerfield this spring, but Washington said do not read too much into where he plays this spring.

As for who does start in centerfield, Washington said the team has plenty of options in Hamilton, Craig Gentry, Julio Borbon and Leonys Martin. He said it’s too early to try and handicap that race.