Hamilton has support of former teammates in Texas

Hamilton has support of former teammates in Texas

ARLINGTON -- You can still find Josh Hamilton's name, twice, as you make your way down the narrow hallway that spills into the home dugout of Globe Life Park. It's engraved on a couple of glass sheets, listed with the rest of the American League Most Valuable Player Award winners and batting champions in Rangers history. In the media dining room four floors up is a framed Fort Worth Star-Telegram, dated Oct. 30, 2010, with Hamilton on the cover.

The headline, in white capital letters, reads, "Leading Them Home." And right below that is the following subhead: "Josh Hamilton's personal success story is eclipsed, he believes, by being part of a tight, supportive championship team."

It's been more than 30 months since Hamilton last played a game for the Rangers, but that support is still there.

"I feel for him," longtime Rangers starter Derek Holland said. "He's a great guy. He taught me a lot, and he also helped me get close to my faith. We'll always be there for him. Yeah, he's an Angel now. We don't care. It's more about the family aspect of it. He's been very good to me; he was a great friend when he was out here. I'm pulling for him to get everything back and get in the right mind-set."

The Angels' six-game road trip through Texas -- to Arlington, where Hamilton starred, then to Houston, where he's been rehabbing from shoulder surgery for two months -- comes at a difficult time.

An arbitrator ruled 11 days ago that Hamilton did not violate the terms of his treatment program after he self-reported a drug relapse that occurred late in the offseason, but the Angels' front office hasn't welcomed him back. Hamilton doesn't have a locker at Angel Stadium, his merchandise has been pulled from the team store and owner Arte Moreno couldn't guarantee that he'd play for the Angels again.

The only question, perhaps, is whether the two sides can agree on a buyout for a contract that will pay Hamilton $83 million through the 2017 season.

His former Rangers teammates just hope he can play the game again, somehow.

"In the time he was here, baseball was one of the things that helped him get better and gave him a purpose in life," Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus said. "Baseball was his escape from that dark past he had, to focus on good things, positive things. For him, that's really important. Hopefully they can forgive him for that mistake he made and get him back on the field. That's what he loves to do."

Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Gonzo and "The Show", and follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.