Report: Josh Hamilton had relapse; Rangers “aware of a situation”


Josh Hamilton reportedly had a relapse Monday night in Dallas. (Tony Gutierrez / AP)

The Rangers said in a statement to the Dallas Morning News, which reported the relapse, that they are “aware of a situation, but we don’t have further comment at this time.”

Sources familiar with the episode told the Morning News that Hamilton drank alcohol Monday night at Sherlock's Pub & Grill. A Rangers teammate, Ian Kinsler, came to the bar to try to attempt to convince him to go home.

While playing in the Tampa Bay Rays organization, Hamilton, the 2010 American League MVP, was suspended for more than three years for drug and alcohol use, missing the entire 2004 and 2005 seasons. A roughly 3 1/2-year period of sobriety ended in January 2009 when he drank to excess in a Tempe, Ariz., bar. Shortly after that incident, Hamilton notified the Rangers and Major League Baseball of his relapse, passed a drug test and enrolled in a counseling program, at the insistence of MLB.

“I got away from the one thing that kept me on the straight and narrow, and that was my relationship with the Lord,” Hamilton said in 2009. “That should always come first. Hopefully some good will come out of this. It just crossed my mind that night, 'Can I have a drink?' Obviously I can't and this reinforces that. Since that night, I have not had another thought like that. I know it's something I shouldn't do because it leads to other things.”

The Rangers, who did not punish him for that slip, nonetheless have a “zero tolerance” policy toward Hamilton, who is tested three times a week for drug use. In addition, he has had an accountability partner, although that job presently is vacant. Hitting coach Johnny Narron was Hamilton’s support until he left for Milwaukee; Hamilton’s father-in-law was hired as a special assistant to help Hamilton, but he changed his mind, citing “family considerations.”

Hamilton’s teammates have been supportive, switching from champagne to ginger ale to celebrate division and American League titles. There was, however, concern for Hamilton last summer after an incident in which a fan was killed in a fall from the stands as he reached for a ball Hamilton had tossed toward spectators. Firefighter Shannon Stone died July 7, as his young son watched.

“Hearing the little boy screaming for his daddy after he had fallen and then being home with my kids really hit home last night,” he said afterward. “It's definitely on my mind and in my heart. I can't stop thinking about that little boy and his family.”

Hamilton was in the lineup the next day, saying that he’d seek help if he needed it. Before Game 1 of the American League Division Series, he caught a first pitch thrown by Stone’s son, Cooper, in an emotional ceremony.

After spending most of her career in traditional print sports journalism, Cindy began blogging and tweeting, first as NFL/Redskins editor, and, since August 2010, at The Early Lead. She also is the social media editor for Sports.

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