Texas Rangers' Josh Hamilton Has Relapse, Future in Texas in Jeopardy?

Christopher BenvieCorrespondent IIFebruary 3, 2012

SURPRISE, AZ - FEBRUARY 25:  Josh Hamilton #32 of the Texas Rangers poses for a portrait during Spring Training Media Day on February 25, 2011 at Surprise Stadium in Surprise, Arizona.  (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)
Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images

Before anyone can sit and bash Josh Hamilton for having a relapse, he has truly walked a long and hard road to get to where he is today.  No man is perfect.

Take a look at the procedures that Hamilton has had in place to help keep him on the straight and narrow: He is drug tested three times a week in an effort by MLB to help him remain clean and sober.  He has also had by his side an "accountability partner" to bolster his sober efforts.

While the reasoning behind his recent relapse remains unclear, one thing is an unfortunate reality: The Rangers will look at Hamilton with a guarded approach come the end of the season.

True, the man has a spotted past.  However, the 30-year-old Hamilton is arguably one of the best players in Major League Baseball when healthy.  In just five professional seasons, he has been a four-time All-Star with two Silver Slugger awards and was the 2010 AL MVP.

Is that good enough for the Rangers, though?

Knowing that your star left fielder does have an addiction problem with a recent relapse probably has team president Nolan Ryan thinking deeper about his efforts to acquire a power bat in the lineup.  There is a chance that Hamilton will be allowed to walk at the end of the season.

Now, to go to extremes, as I said, no man is perfect, even Jesus had his moment of doubt, however, Ryan and company will have their fingers firmly planted on the pulse of Hamilton through the entire 2012 campaign.  It is not as though there is another "Josh Hamilton" available on the free-agent market at the end of the season.

While it is always difficult to see a beloved figure struggle with their personal demons, Hamilton is one individual that Ranger fans should have faith in.  

When the last incident occurred for Hamilton a little over three years ago, he was proactive and immediately called the Rangers and MLB.

He passed a drug test shortly thereafter and went through league-sanctioned counseling while being sure his accountability partner was with him for the remainder of the season. 

While today many may have cast some doubt on the future of Hamilton, it is at this time he needs the support of his fans and teammates to ensure his relapse does not spiral any further, and he can move forward as the sober All-Star baseball fans have come to know, love and respect.