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02/07/12 8:54 PM EST
Rangers hire assistant to be Hamilton's mentor
By T.R. Sullivan / MLB.com
FORT WORTH -- The Rangers have hired Shayne Kelley, a longtime college baseball assistant coach and former strength coach in the Royals' Minor League system, to be a Major League staff assistant and the key person in Josh Hamilton's support system.
Kelley was hired after an extensive search that drew interest nationwide. He was recommended by Hamilton's agent, Michael Moye, and Rangers vice-president Chuck Morgan, whose son knew Kelley from their days together at the University of Alabama.
"We talked to a few people, but Shayne was at the top of our list," Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said. "We had more interest in this position from people reaching out all over the country than all other positions combined since I have been here."
The Rangers were in the process of making a decision when Hamilton had a second relapse in his recovery from drugs and alcohol last week. Hamilton admitted to drinking in a Dallas bar last Monday but has not tested positive for drugs.
Kelley accompanied Hamilton to New York on Monday to be examined by doctors from Major League Baseball and the Players Association. Major League Baseball has not made a decision if Hamilton will be disciplined for what could be viewed as a violation of the terms for reinstatement from previous suspensions. He was not suspended after his first relapse in January of 2009. He missed 3 1/2 years in 2003-06 because of an ongoing addiction to drugs and alcohol.
"I haven't talked to anybody yet from Major League Baseball," Daniels said. "We'll defer to them."
Kelley replaces Johnny Narron, who filled the role of Hamilton's accountability partner since the Rangers acquired him from the Reds four years ago. Narron was hired earlier in the offseason by the Brewers to be their assistant hitting coach.
Like Narron, Kelley has an extensive baseball background and will be able to help the Major League staff in other areas.
Kelley was assistant baseball coach and team chaplain for the University of Alabama from 1996-99 and a Minor League strength and conditioning coach for the Royals from 1999-2001. He was also an assistant baseball coach at two other universities in Alabama: Samford and Jacksonville State. He spent last season as a high school baseball coach.
The term "accountability partner" has been used to describe this position but Daniels said that's misleading.
"I don't know where that came from ... Josh is accountable for himself," Daniels said. "Our aim is to support him and put him in a position to succeed. If you hire an interpreter for somebody, the guy is still responsible for what he says. Josh is still accountable for himself.
"Shayne has been a hitting coach, a strength coach, you do a lot of different things at the collegiate level. He'll be able to help the staff in a lot of different ways in addition to being there for Josh."
Moreland close to full strength for start of camp
FORT WORTH -- First baseman Mitch Moreland, who had surgery on his right wrist at the end November, said he is "feeling great" and could be close to full strength going into Spring Training. Moreland was expected to need 8-12 weeks of recovery from the surgery and the Rangers expected he might be behind others when Spring Training started.
That's probably going to be the case but Moreland is now hitting four times a week with hitting coach Scott Coolbaugh and doing all of his conditioning.
"Going into Spring Training, I'll be in some kind of routine, but I don't think there will be many limitations," Moreland said. "They said we'll go how I feel. If I feel good, we'll keep going through it. That's going to be for me to find out. Nobody will know until we get there but me. Right now I'm feeling good."
Moreland was bothered by the wrist for most of the second half of last season and the playoffs. According to what the doctor told Moreland, he had an "impact fracture" in the wrist that forced a bone out of place and it started grinding against cartilage.
"I know it's going to be better than last year," Moreland said. "It was pretty bad the last month. There were days that I would go into the [indoor batting] cage, I'd just come out for batting practice, take two, three, four swings and see how I feel. We got through it."
The Rangers have made a couple of moves this offseason to protect themselves at first base in case Moreland has a setback. They have signed Brad Hawpe, a left-handed hitter, and Conor Jackson, who hits right-handed, to Minor League contracts with an invitation to Spring Training.
The Rangers announced that 10 Cactus League games will be broadcast on local television. Eight will be on Channel 21 and the other two on FOX Sports Southwest. The first two will be March 17-18 against the Cubs in Las Vegas on FSS.
KESN 103.3 will broadcast 10 games from Spring Training, beginning with the first Cactus League game on March 4 against the Royals.
The Rangers will also broadcast 10 Cactus League games on www.texasrangers.com.