Thursday, March 21, 2013
Updated: March 22, 4:54 PM ET
Josh Hamilton braces for Texas boos
By Richard Durrett
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Los Angeles Angels outfielder Josh Hamilton knows boos are a possibility from a sellout crowd at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington when he returns to Texas for the first time on April 5 in the Rangers' home opener to the 2013 season.
"I think it's funny. I got booed when I played there. Why wouldn't I get booed when I play for the Angels and play there?" Hamilton said Thursday before his first spring training game against the Rangers since he signed a five-year, $125 million deal with the Angels over the offseason. "It's not going to hurt because I can't think about it. The people that boo, they don't have that relationship with me that know me personally, understand me and have that relationship there."
Hamilton was booed late in the season, including during the American League wild-card game after he struck out with runners in scoring position late in the game. He was 0-for-4 in that game and saw a total of eight pitches in the Rangers' loss to Baltimore that ended the season.
Hamilton said he doesn't know what kind of reception he is going to get and isn't worried about it. He said he plans on signing autographs and talking to fans, something he did for nearly 30 minutes Thursday. Most of those seeking Hamilton's signature wore Rangers paraphernalia.
"When we go back there and somebody's ragging me or cussing me or whatever the case may be, it's not going to keep me from signing autographs and spending time with them," Hamilton said. "I'm looking forward to it."
Hamilton was asked about the end of last season, in which the Rangers blew a five-game lead in the AL West with nine games to play and ended up losing in the AL wild-card game to Baltimore. Hamilton struggled with his bat in that final stretch. He committed an error on a routine popup with the score tied in Oakland in the final, AL West-deciding game of the season. And he had the not-so-memorable wild-card game in Arlington in his final game in a Rangers uniform.
"I wish it would have turned out differently," Hamilton said. "I wish we would have won. I wish we would have gone ahead and wrapped it up and got it done and could have focused on the playoffs. But it didn't work out that way.
"When we didn't win, we said we'd get them tomorrow. When we didn't get it done, we said we'd do it the next night. It was a weird season in that we never could get where we rattled off 10 or 12 in a row. We never really got hot, hot as a team. It's unfortunate."
Hamilton addressed comments he made earlier in the spring about how the Dallas-Fort Worth area wasn't a baseball town and said he just meant to say it was more of a football town.
"I felt like I was speaking the truth," Hamilton said. "I've been a Cowboys fan my whole life. We didn't have a team in Carolina, and the Cowboys are America's Team. I still feel that way."
Hamilton heaped praise on Rangers fans and how they supported him and the team while he was there.
"I enjoyed every minute of it," he said. "When you start getting 50,000 on a Friday night instead of going to high school football games, that's fun. It was exciting. It was an exciting ride. I wish them the best, but as it goes, when we play them, we'll get after it and try to beat them."