Wednesday, April 13, 2011
Josh Hamilton apologizes
By Richard Durrett
DETROIT -- Texas Rangers slugger Josh Hamilton apologized to third-base coach Dave Anderson in a private meeting before Wednesday's 3-2 loss to the Detroit Tigers, saying he could have handled the entire situation better.
"I let my emotions get ahead of thinking things through," Hamilton said. "The more I think about it, the more I understand that I take responsibility for what happened because I had the choice not to go or the choice to go. I just appreciate Dave having confidence in my ability to think I could make that play."
The meeting came following Hamilton's frustration regarding the play in the first inning of Tuesday's game that resulted in a small fracture in the humerus bone in his upper arm. Hamilton was placed on the disabled list on Wednesday and is out for six to eight weeks. He won't swing a bat for a month.
Anderson told Hamilton no one was covering home, and the slugger tagged up and tried to score on a popup in foul territory down the third-base line. Hamilton slid headfirst into home and catcher Victor Martinez scrambled back to apply the tag just in time.
Following the game on Tuesday, Hamilton called the play stupid and he remained frustrated early Wednesday morning as he called the play "dumb" and walked around with a sling on his arm in the clubhouse.
But that was before he had a chance to sit down with Anderson and discuss things.
"We talked about everything and I could have taken a different route as far as trying to cool down a little bit before I spoke," Hamilton said. "But everything is good."
Hamilton said he better understood what Anderson was trying to do on the play. Anderson said he's another set of eyes for Hamilton. He tells him what's going on out there, but ultimately, Hamilton has to decide what he's going to do in those kinds of situations.
"It's a learning process in trusting your own instincts," Hamilton said. "He's there giving out information. But when you get right down to it, it's my decision."
Hamilton said he never meant his comments to come off the way they did. Hamilton was still upset about the decision Wednesday morning, saying he was just telling the truth about the play even if that meant throwing his third-base coach "under the bus." But by the time the meeting ended, he had a different outlook.
"I wasn't calling him stupid -- it was just the play itself and coming out of it injured," Hamilton said. "It could have come out a couple of different ways. I could have made the play and not gotten hurt and it would have been a great play. It didn't work out that way. I just know I should think things through before I speak about when something like that happens again."
Earlier Wednesday, Anderson defended his decision to send Hamilton, saying the club will continue to be aggressive on the bases.
"You think about in the past what we've done," Anderson said. "He's scored from second on a groundout to the infield twice. He's scored from first on a long single. We've done double steals with him. That's a part of our game is being aggressive and taking advantage of situations. The unfortunate part is that he got hurt. But if you go out and play the game and play hard, those things are going to happen."
Anderson reiterated that he would have preferred Hamilton not slide headfirst into home plate.
"We tell all of our players that," Anderson said. "That's especially true with all of the equipment the catcher wears to slide feetfirst."
Speaking to reporters before Wednesday's game, Hamilton defended his headfirst slide, saying that was the only way to try to avoid a tag and make the play.
"The object is to score and if you go feetfirst, that gives them all this up here to tag," said Hamilton, pointing at his upper body. "It is what it is. It's over. It sucks it happened, but it happened. We'll deal with it."
Hamilton said he doesn't plan on changing the way he plays the game.
"How else would I play?" Hamilton said. "You can get hurt by doing anything."
The Rangers planned to play Hamilton more in left field to help guard against injury and protect the wear and tear on his body. But the 2010 AL MVP got hurt Tuesday as the DH.
Hamilton was forced to answer more questions about his durability in light of the latest injury. He's missed long stretches throughout his career with various injuries. Since getting to the majors in 2007, Hamilton has played more than 133 games in a season just once (2008). He was asked if his body is more susceptible to injuries than most.
"I can understand that if I was pulling things like hamstrings or quads and it was not actual high-intensity things like hitting walls," Hamilton said. "I'm making plays that the game calls me to make and I'm getting injured that way. That proves to me that I can get hurt anytime doing anything. I'm tired of talking about it, to be honest with you."
Hamilton's absence means some changes in the Rangers' lineup. Michael Young hit third against the Tigers on Wednesday and David Murphy now becomes an every-day player with Hamilton out. Murphy had two singles, two stolen bases and an RBI on Wednesday. Chris Davis arrived from the minors about 90 minutes before the game and is a member of the bench. Washington said Davis could play first and third base and will get some work in with outfield coach Gary Pettis to see if he can play in the outfield in a pinch. Mitch Moreland could see some outfield time as well.
"I'm ready," Murphy said. "This is why I'm here, isn't it? It's not the way I wanted to get playing time, but I'll go out and do my job the best I can and help this team win."
Murphy filled in for Hamilton in September last year and led the team with a .355 batting average. He has historically struggled in April with a career .227 average, his lowest for any month. But he feels like a better spring training and a good start so far to 2011 can allow him to have a more productive month. Having more consistent at-bats won't hurt, either.
"I felt great in spring training and I felt great the first week or so and didn't play frequently and felt like I lost my rhythm a little bit," Murphy said. "But I still feel good up there. I don't think this April is going to be 2009 or 2010. Only time will tell."
Washington is confident his team will overcome this stretch without Hamilton.
"We're hurt because it's one of our better guys," Washington said. "For us to continue what we plan on doing this year, the guys we depend on have to stay healthy. Well, we lost one. We're not going to hide in some hole. We're going to play baseball. We're not going to make any excuses."
Richard Durrett covers the Rangers for ESPNDallas.com.