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Josh Hamilton is “kidding, kidding, kidding, kidding”

Apr 4, 2012, 10:15 AM EDT

Josh Hamilton Reuters Reuters

Once upon a time the Rangers regularly avoided playing Josh Hamilton in center field because they hoped moving to a corner spot would help keep him healthy, but those plans are out the window now.

Hamilton is slated to be the primary center fielder for the first time since 2009 and because he prefers center field that decision is fine with the former MVP, but he also suggested that perhaps the Rangers’ changing their minds has to do with his impending free agency:

I don’t know, you think it’s got anything to do with free agency and get as much out of me as they can before they get rid of me?

Hamilton previously made headlines for saying that he didn’t owe the Rangers anything in contract negotiations, so he was quick to make it clear that the “get as much out of me as they can before they get rid of me” comment was a joke.

Richard Durrett of ESPN Dallas notes that Hamilton “made that comment with a big grin on his face” and then followed it up by saying:

I was just kidding. I was just kidding. I was just kidding. Kidding, kidding, kidding, kidding.

Kidding or not, there’s probably some truth behind the comment, particularly since there’s speculation that Hamilton’s injury history and off-field issues have made the Rangers extremely hesitant to sign him to a long-term deal.

Much like a team being more willing to ride a free agent-to-be starting pitcher for high pitch counts before he hits the open market keeping Hamilton healthy long term may not be the Rangers’ problem beyond this season.

  1. sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Apr 4, 2012 at 10:39 AM

    The flip side is that they have not really had more success keeping him healthy in the corner, so they might as well let him play CF.

  2. yankeesfanlen - Apr 4, 2012 at 10:46 AM

    Sooner or later, Hank and Randy will get Hal off his high horse of salary control and Josh will be our left fielder, with Gardner as back up when Joe becomes convinced that base stealing does not score runs the Yankee way.
    So, Josh, I’m just kidding, right?

  3. artisan3m - Apr 4, 2012 at 11:43 AM

    Hamilton belongs in center. Gentry and Borbon are faster but Hamilton gets a quicker break on the ball and has the better arm. I’d suspect that in spite of the personal baggage, Josh knows if he doesn’t produce this year it could well be his last. There are no teams interested in a 32-year old “project.” His future is with the Rangers, and it starts Friday.

    • Jeremy Fox - Apr 4, 2012 at 12:29 PM

      Surely “if he doesn’t produce this year it could well be his last” is a bit of an overstatement?

      • Utley's Hair - Apr 4, 2012 at 12:39 PM

        Or at least qualified a little.

  4. WhenMattStairsIsKing - Apr 4, 2012 at 11:44 AM

    I know this sounds bad, but with his recent relapse, teams will be wary enough about him without potantially PR-damaging comments like this, kidding or not. Goes for the “I don’t owe Texas anything” bit as well.

    • WhenMattStairsIsKing - Apr 4, 2012 at 2:32 PM

      Potentially. Oy.

  5. largebill - Apr 4, 2012 at 1:01 PM

    Since the onset of free agency has there ever been a more talented player with such a high level of risk attached? No matter how we may hope his recovery is for good, a team potentially offering him a multi-year contract for serious dollars has to weigh the risk of a relapse as well as consider his checkered medical history. His best bet is probably Texas where they have at least built up a relationship with him. However, if he has an injury free season and couple teams get it in their head that he’s the piece to complete their line up . . . .

  6. stex52 - Apr 4, 2012 at 2:00 PM

    It appears that he is pretty high maintenance emotionally – and the Rangers may decide he isn’t worth a premium contract – but I hardly seem him as a project. How many players get drunk once during the season? He just happens to wear it on his sleeve. Even if his skills fell off quite a bit this year, I would have to think someone would offer him in the neighborhood of 5-10 MM$ just to anchor down one of their spots if he dropped into the 270’s (BA) with power.

    He may well not be regarded as a premium player at season end, but he still has the skills to do someone a lot of good.

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