Texas Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said Wednesday that Josh Hamilton's comments before spring training that he didn't "owe the Rangers" a hometown discount initially bothered him, but that the club isn't closing any doors.
Speaking with ESPN Dallas 103.3's Galloway & Company after Yu Darvish's first Cactus League start, Daniels said he first heard Hamilton's comments out of context and wondered why he would say that.
"I still don't like the choice of words because it has a bad connotation, leaves you with a bad taste in your mouth," Daniels said. "But I think hearing it in context, and then hearing it with what he followed up with, I understand a little bit of what he was trying to get across. I don't think I would've phrased it that way."
Hamilton, who is due to become a free agent after the season, and the Rangers tabled contract negotiations after he had a relapse with alcohol earlier this year. Hamilton said last month that he was pleased with the progress he was making in counseling since his relapse and that he wasn't concerned about his long-term contract situation.
"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," Hamilton said. "I don't think anybody can say I haven't. When it comes down to it, people don't understand, fans don't understand, this is a business, this is an entertainment business.
"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. 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 Wednesday, Daniels said he doesn't think effort level is considered going above and beyond.
"The only issue I had with what Josh said, somebody asked him a follow-up question," Daniels said. "He says, 'Well, I play hard, I give it what I have with the Rangers.' For me, that's in the job description. That's the expectation. You don't get extra credit for that."
Hamilton later clarified his comments, saying he owes the Rangers all of his effort and focus for 2012. He added that if he does reach free agency, the first call he's making is to the Rangers' front office.
Daniels said he hasn't addressed the comments with Hamilton but acknowledged that the relationship with the 2010 American League MVP has been beneficial to both.
"No doors have been closed, we're still going to keep talking," Daniels said.
"We're legitimately seven quality 'big-league now' pitchers deep that are going to break [spring] with us," he said.
The Rangers were reported to be a suitor for free-agent starter Roy Oswalt in the offseason. Daniels said the club would've likely already signed the veteran right-hander in years past, but does not expect to add him for this season.
Information from ESPNDallas.com's Richard Durrett was used in this report.