SURPRISE, Ariz. — Texas Rangers CEO Nolan Ryan said Wednesday that he believes outfielder Josh Hamilton is taking his recovery seriously and that the organization wants to help him any way it can as the he continues to battle his addictions.
Ryan said any long-term contract talks remain on hold with Hamilton while the slugger focuses on his family and getting ready for spring training.
“I think we’re all concerned with Josh in that us who don’t have an addiction don’t truly understand the challenges that Josh has,” Ryan said. “So we’re concerned for him, and as an organization we try to do everything we can to help in any way we can. One of the things that Josh realizes after this last time is the support he does have out there, and that’s probably very comforting for him.”
Ryan believes Hamilton knows he has to face his problems head-on.
“I think Josh understands his addiction and his problems and the challenges that he has and I think when he has an issue, like he had, I think he realizes what he’s dealing with and stands up and is willing to admit it and say it’s an ongoing situation,” Ryan said. “It’s something he continues to have to work with and address. So I think he realizes that it’s something that’s not going away.”
Hamilton has not reported to Surprise Recreation Campus yet. The first full squad workout isn’t until Sunday, but some position players have arrived early. He’s expected to get to camp in the next few days.
Ryan said he visited with Hamilton not long after the slugger’s last relapse with alcohol, which was a little over three weeks ago. Hamilton admitted he was drinking in two Dallas-area restaurant/bars and held a 12-minute news conference the day after the news broke. Hamilton apologized to his family, friends, teammates, the club and fans, but didn’t answer any questions.
Ryan said the former MVP is excited about starting the season again.
“Josh has great attitude, is looking forward to getting down here and going to work and is very excited about the upcoming year and with great anticipation,” Ryan said. “I really think he’s very focused on this time of year and what he needs to focus on. I think he’s in good shape and is working hard. I feel very positive about where Josh is coming into camp.”
Hamilton was interviewed last week by his pastor, Dr. James Robison, who was a guest host on “Glenn Beck,” a show on GBTV.com. Hamilton did not get into any specifics about his relapse, but did say that he was in one-on-one counseling and was going to counseling with his wife, Katie.
Hamilton told Dr. Robison that he thought he would be able to stay sober after a relapse in January 2009 in Tempe, Ariz.
“This time it’s not just, ‘OK, it happened, we’ll move past it and maybe it won’t happen again,’ ” Hamilton said last week. “We want to find out why it continues to happen. Whether it’s things in my life — stress, home things, whatever the case — those things might be a trigger.”
The Rangers and Hamilton agreed to table any long-term contract negotiations shortly after the incident occurred. Hamilton is set to make $13.75 million this season, the final one in his contract. Both sides want Hamilton focused on his health.
Hamilton, the top overall pick in the 1999 draft, has fought drug and alcohol addiction for years, delaying his debut in the majors until 2007. He said his recent relapse did not involve drugs and he continues to get tested three times a week.
The week after Hamilton’s relapse, the Rangers named Shayne Kelley as a staff assistant. His primary duty will be to support Hamilton, which includes traveling on the road with the club. Kelley accompanied Hamilton to New York a few weeks ago so that he could meet with doctors from MLB and the MLPBA.
“I do have an accountability partner,” Hamilton said on GBTV last week. “I was watching a special on Billy Graham and he always had at least one person with him, most times it was four or five. They’re not babysitters. They’re somebody that love you, want the best for you and want to see you succeed and put you in the best position to do that.”
Richard Durrett covers the Rangers for ESPNDallas.com.
Follow Richard Durrett on Twitter: @espn_durrett
Rangers’ Ryan: OF Hamilton has club’s support
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