OAKLAND, Calif. -- The morning after the Texas Rangers clinched the 2010 AL West championship, outfielder Josh Hamilton was one of the first players to arrive at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum before Sunday's game against the Oakland Athletics.
Hamilton, who has been out of action since Sept. 4 because of a rib injury, celebrated the AL West title a little differently than his teammates did Saturday night.
Hamilton, whose baseball career was derailed for several years by drug and alcohol abuse, felt it was smarter for him to avoid the champagne and beer showers in the Rangers clubhouse. So he stayed in the trainer's room, showered and kept his commitment to speak to a large fan gathering in the stadium as part of Faith Day in Oakland.
He was able to hug teammates and celebrate with them on the field right after the final out of a 4-3 Rangers victory. A large group of his teammates got the idea to dump water on him instead of champagne as part of the celebration, but Hamilton was already dressed and headed out to his speaking engagement when they located him.
"I'm excited and what happened yesterday as far as the guys celebrating in here, that's part of it," Hamilton said Sunday. "It's not for me. I'm not saying that I wouldn't have liked to have been in here with them. I just felt like it was in my best interest if I didn't participate. But it's amazing that it just so happened to work out that we clinched the same day they are having Faith Day and I'm speaking out there."
Hamilton's troubled past is well documented. He was a can't-miss prospect when Tampa Bay made him the No. 1 overall pick out of high school in the 1999 draft. But drug and alcohol abuse sidetracked his career, and he was out of baseball by 2003.
He credits his religious faith for helping him overcome his addictions, and he finally made it to the majors with the Cincinnati Reds in 2007. He was traded to the Rangers in 2008 and has developed into one of the game's most dangerous hitters.
In 2010, Hamilton has put up MVP-type numbers. He's batting .361 with 31 homers and 97 RBIs in 130 games this season. But Hamilton hasn't played in three weeks.
He has two fractured ribs and has had six injections to relieve the pain and inflammation. He hopes to start baseball activities in earnest this week and return for the final weekend of the regular season so he can get some at-bats before the playoffs begin.
Just because Hamilton wasn't in the middle of the wild clubhouse right after Saturday's clinching win doesn't mean he wasn't excited about the team's accomplishment.
"As a baseball player, you strive to win," Hamilton said. "The whole goal is to play in the games, do something you love and ultimately achieve things we achieved yesterday and go on and do even more."