Rangers ready to welcome Hamilton back

Rangers ready to welcome Hamilton back

ANAHEIM -- The news that outfielder Josh Hamilton is close to returning to the Rangers has his former teammates excited and ready to welcome him back.

"Who doesn't need a guy like Josh Hamilton," third baseman Adrian Beltre said. "We know Josh and who he is. I just know as a teammate, if it does happen, we'll do our best to help him think about baseball and not be a distraction."

The Rangers are close to acquiring Hamilton from the Angels, according to sources. There are still issues to be resolved and a deal may not be announced until Monday. The 33-year-old outfielder is owed $83 million through the 2017 season, and Yahoo! Sports reported that the Rangers will be paying $15 million of that. No players are expected to go to the Angels in the proposed deal, a source told MLB.com's Alden Gonzalez.

But the prevailing mood in the Rangers' clubhouse is they want it to happen.

"I love Josh," pitcher Colby Lewis said. "I loved it when he was here, and I was sad to see him go. The possibility of us getting him back has excited the clubhouse."

Hamilton, who missed 3 1/2 years early in his career because of drug and alcohol abuse, was with the Rangers from 2008-12, hitting .305 with 142 home runs, 506 RBIs and a .549 slugging percentage. He was the American League MVP in 2010 and helped the Rangers reach two World Series in 2010-11.

"He is a player who can help everybody," shortstop Elvis Andrus said. "He is a guy that we know. When he is at his best, we know what he can do. As long as he is ready to play, I'm good to go. The year he won the MVP, he was tremendous. It was unreal how good he was back then."

Hamilton left the Rangers after the 2012 season and signed a five-year, $125 million contract with the Angels. He hit .250 with 21 home runs and 79 RBIs in 2013, then was limited to just 89 games in '14. He ended up hitting .263 with 10 home runs and 44 RBIs last year, and he was 0-for-13 in the American League Division Series loss to the Royals.

During the offseason, Hamilton admitted to having a relapse in his recovery from drug and alcohol abuse. His situation went before an independent arbitrator, who ruled that Hamilton could not be suspended.

Hamilton still started the season on the disabled list while recovering from right shoulder surgery, and he has been working out in the Houston area. The Angels were not happy about the offseason relapse and apparently have been trying to find a way to cut ties with Hamilton.

"It's not the first time something happened with him outside the field," Andrus said. "We all did a great job here having his back and supporting him. As long as he shows up and plays hard, I will always have his back."

If the Rangers do acquire Hamilton, it could be some time before he is ready to join the club. Hamilton will likely need a lengthy rehab assignment in the Minors before he is ready to face Major League pitching.

"I hope he is healthy and his mind is in a good position," Beltre said. "The Josh we know can help us."

T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.