10/04/11 3:16 PM ET
Past with Rays still weighs on Hamilton's mind
By Jane Lee / MLB.com
But the Rangers' All-Star outfielder is still making amends for some of the consequential decisions he made along the way. For it's forgiveness that's eased his journey, one marked by alcohol and various drugs, all of which greatly impeded his big league career.
In the present, Hamilton is in his second playoff appearance in as many years with Texas, and he and his Rangers teammates are again faced with the task of sending home a Rays team that plucked Hamilton as the No. 1 pick in the 1999 First-Year Player Draft.
On Tuesday, he spoke in front of a handful of reporters from Tropicana Field, where just the night prior he stood in the outfield, in the middle of what Rangers pitching coach Mike Maddux deemed the "nitty-gritty" of a nerve-racking 4-3 Texas win in Game 3 of the American League Division Series.
Hamilton's mind wandered, just as it had in 2001, when he began straying from back rehab to tend to what became an addiction of bad decisions that ultimately kept him off the field for three straight years.
"I was thinking about it in the outfield last night," the reigning AL MVP said. "With all of the stress and everything of that game yesterday, you know, thinking about and actually made some amends with trainers and with staff from the other side, from the Rays' side, because I don't think I ever had, as far as what I did and when I was here and my time. And they put a lot of time and effort into me, so just made an apology, a few yesterday."
Hamilton knows his repentant ways won't erase what's been done, or bring back what could have been. He wouldn't change a thing about his past, given the faith and hope he fostered along the way. But that doesn't mean he doesn't think about it.
"And thinking about it for the fans' aspect of it yesterday," he said, "they were all expecting to see me with the Rays in Tropicana, in the outfield. But it doesn't work out that way all the time.
"So you know what? Would I have liked to have done it? Absolutely. Did it happen? No. But I just have to do what I can with my team I am with now. But I enjoy coming back, and the whole newness and weird feeling is over with. You know, now it just feels like another stadium. But I enjoy seeing familiar faces in the stands."
Hamilton and the Rangers entered Tuesday just one win shy of another AL Championship Series appearance. He was named Most Valuable Player of that same series last year, when he hit .350 with four home runs and seven RBIs in six games against the Yankees.
Hamilton is the only Ranger to record a hit in the first three games of this year's ALDS, and his two-run single in Game 3 capped Texas' four-run seventh inning. It follows yet another remarkable regular season for Hamilton, who ended the year with a .298 average with 25 home runs and 94 RBIs despite missing nearly two months with a broken arm.
Hamilton sustained the injury when he made a head-first slide into home plate trying to score on a foul popup down the third-base line, marking his third disabled list stint in the last three years.
But Hamilton, of course, has endured greater pain in his life. He can take the bumps and the bruises, even the broken arms.
"When my body and my mind tell me maybe I shouldn't do that anymore, then I will probably slow down a little bit," Hamilton said. "I have no clue when that will be. Definitely not in the playoffs."