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Rangers star Josh Hamilton: ‘My loyalty is here’

- Associated Press - Sunday, February 26, 2012

SURPRISE, ARIZ. (AP) - When it comes to the Texas Rangers, star Josh Hamilton wants to make this clear: "My loyalty is here."

A couple days after his comments led some to wonder about his future, the former AL MVP clarified his remarks Sunday. Hamilton is eligible for free agency after this season.

"If it does go to free agency, the first place I'm coming is here," Hamilton said. "If I owe anything, it is that."

Hamilton has helped the Rangers win two straight AL pennants. His agent and Rangers recently put off talks on a new deal after Hamilton had a relapse with alcohol. The outfielder has been troubled by drugs and alcohol throughout his professional career.

On Friday, Hamilton said: "The Rangers have done a lot for me, but I've got a question for y'all: Have I done a lot for the Rangers? I think I've given them everything I've had."

"I love Texas. I love my fans. I love fans of the Rangers. I love the organization. I love my teammates. I love everything about it," he said then. "But I'm not going to sit here and say that I owe the Rangers. I don't feel like I owe the Rangers."

On Sunday, Hamilton left no doubt about where he wants to play.

"This is where I've been. This is where my family's been, so obviously I would love to stay here more than anywhere else. First of all, they get a chance to do what they need to do to keep me here," he said.

Hamilton was the 2010 AL MVP, leading the league with a .359 batting average and .633 slugging percentage while hitting 32 home runs. He hit .298 with 25 home runs last year in an injury-interrupted season.

If there are contract talks once the Rangers get past opening day, Hamilton said agent Mike Moye would handle them.

"If it's during the season, I'm not going to know about them because I've asked not to know about them," Hamilton said. "I trust my agent. He's not just my agent, but a close friend and mentor of mine, somebody I go to for advice and I really trust. I leave that up to him. I just say call me when there is something worth talking about.

"I'm just going to leave it up to him. If they approach him and he feels like it is something to go forward with, I'll leave it up to him. It's not going to be something I'm focusing on, concentrating on," he said.

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