10/06/12 2:22 AM ET
Hamilton shrugs off boos, ponders future
By Christian Corona / MLB.com
An All-Star in each of his five seasons with the Rangers, Hamilton saw eight pitches in Friday's American League Wild Card game. They were all strikes. He swung at six and watched the other two, going 0-for-4 and striking out twice in a 5-1 loss to the Orioles at the Ballpark in Arlington as the Rangers' season came to an abrupt end.
"It sucked, didn't it?" Hamilton said. "It was a disappointing year. Everybody's hurting. You can't blame that. It was just one of those things where I didn't get hits. I can't explain it other than not getting hits. I felt pretty good but it was just one of those things."
Hamilton fanned multiple times for the seventh time in his last nine games, striking out in 18 of his last 39 at-bats this season. In the regular season, he batted .357 with six home runs and 12 RBIs in seven games against the Orioles. But he struggled Friday night, returning to the dugout to resounding boos from the crowd at Rangers Ballpark after his last three at-bats.
"They pay for tickets and they have a right to do what they want to do," Hamilton said. "You hate to have it happen at possibly the last game ever here. I gave it my all every time I went out there. I hope they appreciated it more than they didn't. ... I know how the world is. It's just one of those things. Everybody's not going to like how I play. Everybody's not going to like that I went out there and gave it 100 percent. Everybody's not going to like that I put scriptures on their ball. But I don't care."
Soon to be a free agent, Hamilton adamantly claimed that he did not give any thought to his contract situation this year. After negotiations between Hamilton and the Rangers were cut off earlier this year, the 31-year-old slugger assured them that they would get the first chance to sign him once their season ended.
"I've always wanted to stay here," Hamilton said. "They understand that and they know that. When we talked earlier in the year, we didn't get things worked out, so we said we'd wait until the year was over and obviously, they'll get the first shot. But we'll see what happens. I've enjoyed the last five years here playing with these guys. It's the most fun I've had in my life playing baseball."
Hamilton, who said there was a 50-50 chance he would re-sign with the Rangers during the offseason, also addressed the fans that booed him Friday night.
"To the fans, it's been a good ride," Hamilton said. "No matter whether you send me off with boos or not, I still love you. And I still enjoy spending time with you guys, signing autographs, and letting you become my family a little bit."
Mike Napoli, another free-agent-to-be that struggled down the stretch, went 0-for-3 in Friday's season-ending loss. He expressed both his desire to return to the Rangers and his appreciation for having played with Hamilton over the last two years.
"We love Josh," Napoli said. "He's a great teammate. He plays hard. He left it on the field."
Hamilton's manager, Ron Washington, said before Friday's loss that his team was ready to "jump on [Hamilton's] back and take a ride." The same player who hit 43 home runs and had 128 RBIs, both the second-best marks in the Majors, was not productive Friday. Hamilton grounded out into a double play as Ian Kinsler scored the Rangers' only run of the night, struck out twice and grounded out softly to the pitcher in his four at-bats.
"Sometimes when he swings like that he catches it, and sometimes when he swings like that he doesn't. Tonight he didn't," Washington said. "Baseball is strange. When you're doing well, they love you; when you're not doing well, they show their disappreciation of you. So I guess tonight that's what they were doing."
Hamilton dealt with a wide range of ailments this season, missing games for everything from back spasms to a sinus infection to the ocular keratitis that forced him to miss five games earlier this month. He was asked if his vision remained an issue after he returned to the field.
"I plead the Fifth," said Hamilton, who dropped a routine fly ball in center field during the fifth inning of the Rangers' series finale, a 12-5 loss to the A's that forced them to play in the AL Wild Card game Friday.
Despite his recent struggles and the do-or-die situation his team was in, Hamilton said he didn't feel any pressure during Friday's loss.
"I felt more pressure at my little girl's softball game than I did last night," Hamilton said. "I'd like to hit 25 home runs in 25 at-bats and get cheers, but that's baseball, man. It doesn't work that way."
Hamilton said he would pray before making a decision on whether to return to the Rangers next year.
"If they don't accept you in a town, you shake the dust off your feet and move on to the next one," Hamilton said, paraphrasing a Bible verse, Luke 9:5.
Now that the season's over, Hamilton can begin considering whether he'll shake the dust off his feet and move on or whether he'll remain a Ranger.
Christian Corona is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.