ARLINGTON, Texas. - Texas Rangers outfielder and recovering drug addict Josh Hamilton said Friday that he had a relapse and had "three or four" drinks earlier this week at a Dallas-area bar, calling it a "weak moment" that he will take specific steps to make sure doesn't happen again.
The 30-year-old player was suspended for more than three years for drug and alcohol use while in the Tampa Bay organization. He missed the entire 2004 and 2005 seasons, but has become one of the best players in baseball on a team that has won the last two American League pennants. He was the AL MVP in 2010.
Hamilton said he has not taken any drugs and had been tested twice since Monday, part of his normal routine. He said he expects to meet with Major League Baseball doctors in New York soon.
It is Hamilton's second known alcohol-related relapse in three years. In January 2009, he drank to excess in a bar in Tempe, Ariz. Before that, Hamilton said he hadn't taken a drink of alcohol since Oct. 6, 2005.
In a tweet on her account, Hamilton's wife, Katie, wrote: "Truly appreciate all the encouraging & supportive tweets we've been getting. God is Faithful and forgives- so thankful that you all are."
Hamilton said his life "in general is based on making the right choices, everything as far as my recovery, as far as my baseball goes, it's all based around my relationship with the Lord."
"You all know how hard I work on the field, I give it everything I have," said Hamilton, clearly struggling to keep his emotions in check. "When I don't do that off the field, I leave myself open for a weak moment. I had a weak moment on Monday night."
Hamilton said he "ended up ordering a drink ... probably had three or four drinks, ended up calling (teammate) Ian Kinsler, to just kind to come out hang out with me. Ian did not know I had been drinking."
When the Rangers acquired him from the Cincinnati Reds in December 2007, they were aware of Hamilton's off-the-field problems and had a zero-tolerance policy regarding his drinking. He is tested for drug use three times a week and has had an accountability partner to support him in his recovery though that job is now vacant.
Hitting coach Johnny Narron's primary role was to support the former No. 1 overall draft pick, but Narron left the Rangers in November for Milwaukee.
The Rangers announced last month that Hamilton's father-in-law had been hired as a staff special assistant to be the accountability partner, but Michael Dean Chadwick has since decided against accepting that position because of "family considerations."
Hamilton can become a free agent after this season and has said he will not negotiate an extension after he reports to spring training. He had planned to leave for spring training on Feb. 17, a full week before the full-squad reporting date in Arizona.
Hamilton had a strong 2011 as the Rangers returned to the World Series, batting .298 with 25 homers and 94 RBIs. He missed 36 games early in the season because of a broken bone in his arm suffered on a play at the plate against the Tigers. The season also was marred by the death of a firefighter who fell from the stands while trying to catch a ball for his son that was thrown by Hamilton.
When the playoffs began, 6-year-old Cooper Stone threw out the ceremonial first pitch to Hamilton, his favorite player. The scene brought 50,000 fans to their feet, many with tears in their eyes, and Hamilton himself was touched deeply.
"Just to see the smile on his face and him enjoying himself," Hamilton said after the game, "it was pretty special to see."
Still, Hamilton, whose wife had their third girl last summer, acknowledged during the playoffs that it had been an emotional year, "up and down."
"It's been good for me to see all the guys and how they react and how they respond to things I have gone through injuries, tragedy at the ballpark," he said in October. "But those things, you learn from them, you learn how to deal with them, how to cope with them, and you move forward."