Washington praises Josh Hamilton

BALTIMORE -- While this might be a contract year for Josh Hamilton, Texas Rangers manager Ron Washington won't allow that label to be bestowed upon his outfielder, especially after his historic Tuesday night performance.

"What's happening is he's healthy. He's doing what he's capable of doing," Washington said Wednesday morning on ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM's "Ben & Skin Show". "To think that's why Hamilton is doing what he's doing (playing for a contract), that's not giving Hamilton credit for the ability God has given him."

Hamilton became just the 16th player in major league history to hit four home runs in a game, driving in eight runs and totaling an AL-record 18 total bases in the Rangers' 10-3 victory against the Baltimore Orioles on Tuesday night.

The 2010 MVP currently leads the the American League in all three Triple Crown categories with 14 home runs, 36 RBIs and a .406 batting average.

"If you can do this just because you're playing for a contract, you're really cheating the game and you're cheating the team you're playing for," Washington said. "I don't believe in that. You might be a little more focused. But if you can do that simply because you're trying to get a contract, there's something about that player you may not like.

"I don't think Hamilton is one of those guys. He has a passion for what he does. He just has tremendous ability. I don't think all of that is coming into play right now."

Hamilton and the Rangers reopened contract discussions after the start of the season in April. Talks had broken off after his relapse with alcohol in early February.

Washington and the rest of the Rangers had fun watching history in the making Tuesday night, even giving an inside glimpse into one of the team's methods to keep everybody loose and having fun after home runs.

"They say, 'Is that all you got?'" Washington said. "So they asked him after the first one, 'Is that all you got?' They asked him after the second one, 'Is that all you got?' After the third one, 'Is that all you got?'

"After the fourth one it was, 'Jesus, what's going on with this guy?' "

Rangers captain Michael Young said it was the best individual performance by a hitter that he's ever seen in person.

"You don't expect someone to hit four homers. If someone is capable, it's Josh and maybe a handful of other guys. You don't expect that in the big leagues. That's fantastic," Young said.

Outfielder David Murphy was thankful to be a part of such a performance.

"It's the coolest thing I've ever seen on a baseball field by an individual," Murphy said. "Being on the opposing side last year, it's impressive to see Albert Pujols hit three home runs in a World Series or Adrian Beltre hitting three in a playoff game. But four is just so rare. I feel like an 8-year-old kid right now who just left the ballgame and saw the coolest thing ever."