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Every day still a struggle for Hamilton

Chris Ruddick,
MLB Editor


Rounding Third Logo Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Texas Rangers slugger Josh Hamilton relapsed this past week.

The 2010 American League Most Valuable Player met the media on Friday to address the situation. According to Hamilton a family issue led him to downtown Dallas where he had dinner and had "three or four" drinks.

"You guys all know how hard I play on the field," Hamilton said. "When I don't do that off the field. I leave myself open for a weak moment. And I had a weak moment on Monday in Dallas."

Hamilton called teammate Ian Kinsler to come hang out with him. Kinsler then took him home, but Hamilton returned to the bar and had some more drinks, but did not touch drugs, nor did he want to.

"Ian [Kinsler] did not know I had been drinking because once I do drink I can be very deceptive, very sneaky in a lot of ways," Hamilton said.

He's had two drug tests since the incident.

"Anytime I drink there is a point that comes and the switch flips and you never know when it's going to be," Hamilton said. "Whether it's the first three or four or the 15th. That's why its so dangerous."

At the outset it doesn't appear to be as damaging as the time Hamilton slipped up in Arizona back in 2009 when pictures of him with other women at a bar surfaced on the internet.

But, it was a relapse nonetheless and sadly it probably won't be the last.

"It was just wrong. That's all it comes down to," Hamilton said. "I needed to be in a different place. I needed to be responsible ... I was not responsible."

Josh Hamilton
According to Josh Hamilton a family issue led him to downtown Dallas where he had dinner and had "three or four" drinks.
Everyone knows the story with Hamilton. Selected first overall by the Tampa Bay Devil Rays in 1999, Hamilton was injured early in his minor league career and fell into a pattern of drug abuse shortly thereafter that ultimately got him suspended from the game.

Tampa eventually cut ties with the outfielder in 2006, leaving him exposed to the Rule 5 Draft where he was selected by the Chicago Cubs before being moved to the Cincinnati Reds later in the day.

Hamilton shined for the Reds in 2007, but was dealt to the Rangers the following winter. Hamilton's comeback really took off in Arlington, as he became an All-Star in 2008, stealing the show with a breathtaking performance in the Home Run Derby at Yankee Stadium that year.

The common denominator in all his past transgressions and his most recent slip-ups has been time away from the game. Injuries at the outset of his career led him to his initial downward spiral and the latest incidents both came in the offseason.

So, here we go again.

You can applaud Hamilton for his honesty, his courage and his willingness to address his addiction without a prepared statement, but you could have also replayed the same press conference he gave after the incident three years ago. It sounded almost the same.

And again, the next time this happens, it will probably be a replay of this one. Yet I'll still continue to root for him because you want him to succeed.

You have to wonder, though, why Hamilton would even go to such a high-profile place. Then again, given his story, which I am sure everyone in the Texas area is probably aware of, why would someone even serve him?

This is a constant struggle for Hamilton, one I can't begin to understand since thankfully addiction is not something that I have had to deal with in any capacity of my life.

As far as baseball goes, the question has to be asked, can the Rangers depend on him long term? Of course there are some out there who are already questioning the Rangers' choice of trying to work out a deal with Hamilton, who

It's a valid argument. Forget the injuries that have plagued him almost all of his career, would you commit the type of money that Hamilton is worth to a player that obviously has demons most people cannot begin to fathom?

When he is on the field, though, he is one of the more dynamic bats in the game, as evidenced by his terrific showing in the Bronx that night and his amazing MVP campaign of two years ago.

But, as he proved this past week, he could always be a drink away from leaving the game forever.

Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Chris Ruddick at cruddick@sportsnetwork.com.

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