SURPRISE, Ariz. – When it comes to the Texas Rangers, star Josh Hamilton wants to make this clear: “My loyalty is here.”
A couple days after his comments led some to wonder about his future, the former A.L. MVP clarified his remarks Sunday before the first full-squad workout for the two-time American League champions. Hamilton is eligible for free agency after this season.
“If it does go to free agency, the first place I’m coming is here,” Hamilton said. “If I owe anything, it is that.”
His agent and Rangers recently put off talks on a new deal after Hamilton had a relapse with alcohol. The outfielder has been troubled by drugs and alcohol throughout his professional career.
On Friday, Hamilton said: “The Rangers have done a lot for me, but I’ve got a question for y’all: Have I done a lot for the Rangers? I think I’ve given them everything I’ve had.”
“I love Texas. I love my fans. I love fans of the Rangers. I love the organization. I love my teammates. I love everything about it,” he said then. “But I’m not going to sit here and say that I owe the Rangers. I don’t feel like I owe the Rangers.”
On Sunday, Hamilton left no doubt about where he wants to play.
“This is where I’ve been. This is where my family’s been, so obviously I would love to stay here more than anywhere else,” he said. “First of all, they get a chance to do what they need to do to keep me here.”
Hamilton was the 2010 A.L. MVP, leading the league with a .359 batting average and .633 slugging percentage while hitting 32 home runs. He hit .298 with 25 home runs last year in an injury-interrupted season, playing hurt throughout the postseason before having sports hernia surgery in November.
Hamilton is focused on the field and being with his teammates.
“This is where it starts. Everything we want to do as a team starts today,” he said. “It’s going to be a fun spring. And a fun year, too.”