By Mark Lane (@therealmarklane)
SURPRISE, Ariz. — Texas Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton is leaving spring training and heading to Houston to see his surgeon after experiencing knee pain in his left knee Tuesday.
Hamilton, who signed a one-year minor league deal with Texas that included an April 1 opt-out clause, was slated to compete for the first base job as the Rangers and the 35-year-old wanted to move him from the outfield to the infield in a career preservation move.
The club signed Mike Napoli on Feb. 17 to give that 35-year-old a third tour of duty and solidify the first base position rather than have a platoon at first base.
The lefty who made his major league debut with the Cincinnati Reds in 2007 returned to the Rangers on April 27, 2015 as part of a trade with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim for cash considerations and a player to be named later. Hamilton played 50 games for the Rangers and went .253 at the plate and hit eight home runs and drove 25 RBI.
Hamilton started the 2016 season on the 15-day disabled list. In late May, the club stated Hamilton had undergone knee surgery, the third one in nine months, and he would not play at all the entire season. The Rangers activated Hamilton on Aug. 23 to release him as part of the “administrative” part of retaining Hamilton’s rights as a release prior to Sept. 1 would ensure Texas could play Hamilton in the big leagues before mid-May if he was re-signed.
For Hamilton, his return to the Rangers in 2017 and moving to the infield was part of leaving a legacy for his daughters. Hamilton will have to see if it is still possible after a visit with his surgeon in Houston.