Hamilton expects to be '100 percent' by spring

Hamilton expects to be '100 percent' by spring

DALLAS -- Josh Hamilton said he expects to be 100 percent by Spring Training and be back with the Rangers.

Hamilton underwent reconstructive surgery on his left knee on June 8, and he said the knee feels great.

"I have been pain-free for 2 1/2 weeks," Hamilton said at the unveiling of the Josh "Hambone" Hamilton Field at the new Rangers MLB Youth Academy at the Mercy Street Sports Complex.

The surgery seemed to put Hamilton's future in doubt. But there is no question in his mind he'll be playing for the Rangers next season.

"One-hundred percent," Hamilton said. "I feel confident when I'm healthy, and really healthy, I'm as good as anybody in the game."

Hamilton is signed through next season, but even he suggested he would welcome coming in as a non-roster player and having to win a job.

"I don't expect anything as far as a spot," Hamilton said. "If I have to win a spot, that's fine with me. I'll just be happy to be out there pain-free and playing again.

"There is no pride in me. It's always been what's best for the Rangers, what's best for doing the right thing for the organization that's done so much for me. That's the approach I am going to continue to take."

Hamilton has been out for the entire season because of persistent knee problems that required surgery. The surgery was done by Dr. Walt Lowe in Houston.

Hamilton to miss rest of season

Hamilton had a checkup 10 days ago. Lowe informed Hamilton that he was way ahead in the recovery progress by a couple of months. But Hamilton insists he is not trying to speed up the recovery as he has not yet begun jogging again.

"I know I feel good, but I've got some healing to do," Hamilton said. "I need to focus on that and the process of rehabilitation. I have time not to speed up the process.

"It feels great. There is something about driving a car, getting out and not taking five minutes to get the knee working again. All things as far as quality of life."

Hamilton has not spoken with general manager Jon Daniels about next season. The Rangers are in the middle of a pennant race, so they are not worried about the next season.

But Hamilton will still have considerable competition for playing time in the outfield. The Rangers have Shin-Soo Choo signed through 2020, and Delino DeShields, Nomar Mazara and Ryan Rua are all still pre-arbitration-eligible.

Banister on key injuries

Ian Desmond is a free agent after the season, but the Rangers will likely make a serious attempt to re-sign him to be their center fielder.

The designated-hitter spot is still unknown. Prince Fielder is scheduled to undergo surgery on Friday to repair a herniated disk in his neck. It will be his second such surgery in the past 27 months, and his future is unknown.

Daniels discusses Fielder

The same can still be said of Hamilton, 35, who led the Rangers to two World Series in 2010-11. He has been on the disabled list 10 times in his career, but he still believes his knee problems are over with.

"I'm really excited," Hamilton said. "It's better. It's fixed. Now, all I need to do is step it up and get ready for next year."

T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.