Josh Hamilton included in celebration

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Josh Hamilton's teammates weren't going to celebrate without him this time.

As soon as the Texas Rangers hugged on the field and headed for the tunnel following a 5-1 ALDS Game 5 win over the Tampa Bay Rays, the clubhouse attendants told Hamilton to get his goggles on.

"I was getting a little worried," Hamilton said. "I didn't know what was going on."

Hamilton, who has battled drug and alcohol addiction, said it's best for him not to be around champagne. So he walked into the clubhouse to find his teammates waiting on him and holding bottles of Canada Dry ginger ale.

"Everybody yelled 'Ginger ale!' and I just jumped in the middle of the pile and they doused me with it," Hamilton said. "It was the coolest thing for my teammates to understand why I can't be a part of the celebration, and for them to adapt it for me to be a part of it says a lot about my teammates."

When the club clinched the AL West title in Oakland in September, many of players grabbed water bottles and tried to find Hamilton to douse him. But he had already changed clothes and was ready to speak to some church groups in the stadium as part of Faith Day in Oakland. This time, he looked as wet as everyone else.

"It was pretty amazing to get a little taste of what the celebration was like," Hamilton said. "The guys really doused me good. This stuff burns your eyes just like the alcohol does."

Hamilton, an MVP candidate after batting .359 with 32 homers and 100 RBIs in 133 games during the season, hit just .111 in the series (2-for-18). He did get his first RBI of the ALDS on a ground ball to the right side in the first. Elvis Andrus was running to third on the play and kept going to score the run.

Hamilton missed most of the final month of the season with cracked ribs, which appear to have impacted his timing at the plate. He said he feels OK, but a day off Wednesday should help.

The Rangers' celebration continued all the way back to Texas as hundreds of fans welcomed the team back home at Dallas Fort Worth International Airport just before 3 a.m. CT.

After the team charter landed, players spilled out into the parking lot to greet fans who had waited hours for the team to arrive. Ian Kinsler, Michael Young, Vladimir Guerrero and even owner Chuck Greenberg ran down the long line of fans to give hugs, high-fives and sign autographs.

Relief pitcher Darren O'Day even livened up the party atmosphere by blaring music from speakers attached to his iPod.

Travis L. Brown of ESPNDallas.com contributed to this report. Richard Durrett covers the Rangers for ESPNDallas.com. You can follow him on Twitter or leave a question for his weekly mailbag.