"Right now I'm counting on it," Hamilton, the 2010 AL MVP, said about going to a hearing. "There's still a lot of time between now and then."
Hamilton resumed baseball activities Wednesday after getting over a bout of pneumonia that had him in the hospital for most of last week. He said his temperature got as high 105 degrees and that his energy level still isn't all the way back. He lost 10 pounds and said he'd like to gain 15 pounds before spring training. He said he feels "90 percent" and is swinging a bat again.
Hamilton said that he'd like to talk about a long-term deal with the Rangers. He added that the Rangers wanted to get the arbitration deal done first before they move on to any other contract discussions.
Hamilton's agent and the Rangers exchanged salary figures for 2011 last week. The two sides are $3.3 million apart -- Hamilton wants $12 million and the club offered $8.7 million. They could meet somewhere in the middle at a little more than $10 million, and have three weeks until a Feb. 14 hearing date to do so.
"It hasn't been on the forefront of my mind," Hamilton said. "Either way, whatever happens, I'll do OK."
Hamilton hit a league-leading .359 last season with 32 homers and 100 RBIs. That production came despite playing in only 133 games due to injury.
Hamilton said he's open to an extended contract, but that it has to be the "right deal."
"It's not just me to think about," Hamilton said. "I have to think about other players and who's going to be coming up later on, and that's what has always made things work well for the association [MLBPA] is players doing good deals, reasonable deals, that make it fair for the guys coming up behind them. I'd love to stay in Texas for the rest of my career. We'll see what happens."
Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said a handful of factors are considered for each player when it comes to a long-term deal. In Hamilton's case, that includes, among other things, his age, injury history, high value to the lineup, his impact in the community and his projected numbers.
"We're obviously a better team when he's out there," Daniels said. "If we find common ground and do something beyond a one-year deal, that's great. If not, it doesn't prohibit us from doing something in the future. There's no one factor I dwell on. The reality is we love the player. I think he loves being here."
Richard Durrett covers the Rangers for ESPNDallas.com.