Josh Hamilton has already been a part of the Rangers' news cycle weeks in advance of players departing for spring training, and it's been a bit concerning.
Hamilton received a cortisone injection to help soothe the pain in his ailing knee, which has been operated on twice since September, and we haven't even begun playing baseball yet. That's concerning give the fact that the Rangers are expecting Hamilton to be their starting left fielder with the understanding he'll have to get scheduled days off fairly often to try to keep him fresh and off the disabled list.
While speaking to Ben and Skin on 105.3 The Fan, Rangers manager Jeff Banister said a spring training will benefit Hamilton this year as he didn't have that last season with the Angels as he was basically barred from the Angels' facility while rehabbing a surgery in Houston.
He also said the Rangers don't need Hamilton to be vintage MVP Hamilton, which of course is highly unlikely anyway, but just be "one of the guys." If you're going to credit Hamilton for anything in his brief run with the Rangers last season it's that he seemed to jell with the team and the clubhouse better than he did during his first stint in Arlington before leaving via free agency to go to the Angels.
"Remember last year, he didn't have any spring training. We sent him down to Arizona to get some work in, and it was really expedited, shortened...we knew we were under the gun a little bit," Banister said about Hamilton's fast-track to the bigs last year. "I warned everybody, guys who miss spring training...how valuable that time is, the day-in day-out grind of spring training getting the lower half of your body back into baseball shape, to be able to work through the wear and tear every day.
"So, he came up with the knee injury, and forced us a little to give him some extra rest. But, I think a clean offseason for him...have a full spring training - and I don't think we're going to count on him for a full 162 - but I do believe if we can get 100 plus games from Josh at a better than average level, we don't need him to go be an MVP, he just needs to be one of the guys, and I think he can do that."