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Josh Hamilton alcohol relapse forces MLB to get involved

FORT WORTH, Texas — Rangers slugger Josh Hamilton visited doctors for Major League Baseball and the players’ association this week in New York following his admitted relapse with alcohol.

General manager Jon Daniels said Tuesday night that Hamilton was accompanied by Shayne Kelley, the team’s newly hired major league staff assistant whose job includes being in a support role for Hamilton.

The meetings with doctors were Monday, a week after Hamilton said he had “three or four” drinks during dinner in Dallas and then had more drinks later that evening. The recovering drug addict publicly apologized Friday without taking questions about what happened, saying he had a “weak moment” that stemmed from “personal reasons” involving a family member.

Daniels said it was “unlikely” that the Rangers would discipline Hamilton, and that the team would defer to MLB’s handling of the situation. He said had had no indication of what would happen.

“Given what’s happened in the past, at this point it’s at their discretion,” Daniels said before his appearance at a stop on the team’s winter caravan. “I think it’s kind of based on what the doctors find, and what they recommend, whether they feel like this was something bigger.”

Daniels said he had not gotten a report from the doctors that Hamilton had also counseled with in the past.

Hamilton said he took no drugs, and never thought of doing so last week. He has had several drug tests since then as part of his regular mandated routine.

When asked what was next for Hamilton, Daniels said the outfielder worked out at Rangers Ballpark earlier Tuesday.

“He’s getting ready for the season,” Daniels said.

But the Rangers last week put on hold talks about a contract extension for Hamilton, who can be a free agent after the upcoming season.

After being the No. 1 overall draft pick by Tampa Bay in 1999, Hamilton got involved in drugs and alcohol. He missed the entire 2003, 2004 and 2005 seasons and served several suspensions. He didn’t make his major league debut until 2007 with Cincinnati, and was traded after that season to Texas, where he has become one of the best players in baseball for the team that won the last two American League pennants. He was the AL MVP in 2010.

Kelley takes over in a support role for Hamilton that had been held by Johnny Narron, who left after last season to become hitting coach in Milwaukee. The Rangers announced last month that Hamilton’s father-in-law had been hired as a staff special assistant, but Michael Dean Chadwick later decided against accepting that position because of “family considerations.”

Kelley was a minor league strength and conditioning coach for the Kansas City Royals from 1999-2001. He has been an assistant coach at the University of Alabama, Samford and Jacksonville State. He was also a team chaplain while at Alabama, his alma mater.

Though Hamilton had no previous affiliation with Kelley, he was recommended by both the player’s agent, Mike Moye, and Chuck Morgan, the team’s senior vice president for ballpark entertainment. Morgan’s son went to Alabama.

“He will be able to support the staff in a number of different ways,” Daniels said. “The role is there primarily because of Josh but there will be additional day-to-day duties,” including helping the coaches, throwing batting practice and whatever else is needed.



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