ARLINGTON, Texas — Texas Rangers outfielder and recovering drug addict Josh Hamilton said Friday that he had a relapse that started with "three or four" drinks at a bar in the Dallas area this week, apologizing for a "weak moment" and insisting he will try to make sure it doesn't happen again.
The 30-year-old Hamilton said his actions "hurt a lot of people very close to me."
Hamilton was suspended for more than three years for drug and alcohol use while in the Tampa Bay organization. The former No. 1 overall draft pick missed the entire 2004 and 2005 seasons, but he has become one of the best players in baseball on a team that has won the last two American League pennants. He was the AL MVP in 2010.
But this week Hamilton had his second known alcohol-related relapse in three years. Both came during the off-season.
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In January 2009, he drank to excess in a bar in Tempe, Ariz. Before that, Hamilton said he had been sober since Oct. 6, 2005.
Without being specific, Hamilton said his weak moment Monday came for "personal reasons" with a family member. He said he walked to a restaurant to have dinner and ended up ordering "three or four drinks."
Hamilton said he has not taken any drugs, and had no thoughts of doing so. He said he has been tested for drugs twice this week, part of his normal routine.
Hamilton spoke for about 12 minutes without using any prepared notes or taking any questions. Though there were no tears, he struggled with his emotions at times.
"My life in general is based on making the right choices, everything as far as my recovery, as far as my baseball goes, it's all based around my relationship with the Lord," Hamilton said. "And I look at it like that, you all know how hard I play on the field and I give it everything I absolutely have. When I don't do that off the field, I leave myself open for a weak moment."
After having a few drinks with dinner, Hamilton called Ian Kinsler to come hang out with him.
Hamilton said Kinsler didn't know he had been drinking, and that he never had a drink in front of his teammate. They left the restaurant and went to another place nearby for 25-30 minutes. Then Kinsler drove him back to where he was staying not far away.
Though Hamilton told Kinsler he was not going anywhere else, Hamilton said he later returned to the place they had left and had more drinks.
"Things happened that me, personally, I'm not proud of after I drank, and they are personal and are being handled as that," he said.
In Twitter posts Friday, Hamilton's wife, Katie, wrote: "Truly appreciate all the encouraging & supportive tweets we've been getting. God is Faithful and forgives-so thankful that you all are ... Showing us such love and encouragement during this time."
When the Rangers acquired him from the Cincinnati Reds in December 2007, they were aware of Hamilton's off-the-field problems. He is tested for drug use and has had an accountability partner to support him in his recovery — though that job is now vacant.
Assistant hitting coach Johnny Narron's primary role was to support Hamilton, but Narron left the Rangers in November for Milwaukee.
The Rangers announced last month that Hamilton's father-in-law had been hired as a staff special assistant to be the accountability partner, but Michael Dean Chadwick has since decided against accepting that position because of "family considerations."
General manager Jon Daniels said he was close to hiring someone for the job.