al notebook

Hamilton Finally Reaches Tampa -- With Texas

Texas Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton entered last night with a league-best 53 RBI.
Texas Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton entered last night with a league-best 53 RBI. (By Jim Mone -- Associated Press)
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Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Josh Hamilton was taken by Tampa Bay with the first overall pick in the 1999 amateur draft. He was a can't-miss prospect with triple crown potential.

Nine years later, Hamilton finally showed his skills at the Rays' home park. He was wearing a Texas uniform.

After a career detour that included injuries and addictions to drugs and alcohol that kept him off the field from 2003 to '05, Hamilton leads the league with 53 RBI. He went 0 for 4 last night, but is still hitting .327 with 12 homers.

"There's a lot of history here with me, but at the same time, it's a different team," Hamilton said. "I've got to focus on playing ball. It's a little weird seeing and facing some of the guys I've seen before."

Tampa Bay executive vice president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman spearheaded the effort to get Hamilton reinstated from the suspension list, and the center fielder was allowed to resume playing minor league games in June 2006.

"I'm grateful for what Andrew Friedman did, as far as getting me on the road back getting into baseball," Hamilton said. "He worked really hard at that."

In December 2006 the Cubs took Hamilton in the winter meetings draft and traded him to the Reds. Hamilton, suddenly, was a major leaguer in 2007, and hit .292 with 19 homers and 47 RBI in 90 games, one season after appearing in 15 games for short-season Class A Hudson Valley.

Texas acquired Hamilton from the Reds for Ps Edinson Vólquez and Danny Ray Herrera last December.

· BREAK FOR BLALOCK: Rangers IF Hank Blalock, who has been taking medication for carpal tunnel syndrome in his right wrist, will return to Texas for an examination today.

He will miss the three-game series against the Rays, and won't resume swinging a bat for at least a couple of days.

Blalock may go out on a minor league rehab assignment before being activated from the disabled list.

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