Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: Josh Hamilton is hurt again.
After playing in just 50 games after starting the season injured with the Los Angeles Angels and getting traded to the Rangers and then missing more time late in the season, the Rangers announced on Monday that Hamilton will undergo season-ending surgery for a knee injury, meaning the outfielder won’t see the field until 2017 at the earliest.
But it’s becoming increasingly clear that, even then, Hamilton might not don a Texas Rangers jersey, either through retirement or a trade with a team looking to take a chance. And, in the best interest of the team and himself, it’s time that Hamilton moves into an off-field role for the Rangers and move on from a playing career.
First off, Hamilton needs to realize that his playing days are basically over. Between his age and his well-documented troubles with drugs and alcohol, his body just can’t continue to play baseball at a high level. He’s only been on the field for 139 games in the past two seasons, a steep drop off after playing in at least 121 games in five of the six prior seasons. Now seems like a good time to make that transition from on-field player to a role with the team off the field and to find a place to settle down that will help him not fall back into a relapse.
And Arlington is the best place to do just that. Even after the way he handled the 2012-2013 offseason, he’s been welcomed back to the Metroplex with open arms. And many fans likely still revere him for his role in getting the Rangers to back-to-back World Series in 2010 and 2011. Plus, the Metroplex has no where near the pressure and temptations that Los Angeles or New York or Chicago have for a recovering addict.
Also, the Rangers already have the support system in place to help him stay out of relapsing back . It was quite obvious in 2013 and 2014 that he struggled in Los Angeles with no system in place. He struggled on the field, suffered a relapse during the offseason there and had a falling out with the front office who wasn’t quite as forgiving as the Rangers. If he’s able a way to find a way to stay with the team, either as a motivational speaker, in the marketing department or in another area of the front office, he’ll be in the best place possible post-career.
Of course, the Rangers are paying just seven million dollars of the massive contract the Angels gave Hamilton in 2013, so there’s likely no pressure from the front office to get Hamilton back onto the field quickly. And given the landscape of the current Rangers roster, anything he could give them in the future on the field would simply be an added bonus.
But, as the saying goes, “Father time is undefeated,” and it’s becoming apparent that Hamilton is on the losing side of that battle. If Hamilton wants to remain on the road to recovery, it’s best for him to take an off-field role with the team and stay in Arlington.