Josh Hamilton makes joyful return to baseball

Manage your account settings. EDT May 25, 2015Josh Hamilton returns to a Texas Rangers team that won five consecutive games.(Photo: Aaron Josefczyk, AP)CLEVELAND Texas Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton woke up in the fetal position Monday, still fully clothed, even wearing his dress shoes.It was 1 in the morning.He was wide awake, Converse 2016 and starving.Go ahead, you try getting a good night’s sleep when you are 13 hours away from playing a game you wondered would ever come, and on the heels of one of the most turbulent periods of your life.It had been 71/2 months since he last stepped on a major league field, but it sure seemed like a lifetime ago Monday as Hamilton returned to baseball and madehis 2015 big league debut at Progressive Field.Perhaps it wasn’t the performance Hollywood would have scripted hitless in three at bats with two strikeouts and a misplayed ball in the outfield but Hamilton was too elated to care, particularly with the Rangers winning their sixth game in a row, 10 8, over the Cleveland Indians.USA TODAYJosh Hamilton hitless in return, Rangers beat Indians for 6th straight winHe kicked himself for taking a bad route and not catching Jason Kipnis’ line drive in the second inning, and was too antsy at the plate, but not even the scattered fans who chanted, “Just Say No!,” were going to diminish the privilege of wearing a major league uniform again.”It was a lot of fun,” said Hamilton, who last played with the Rangers on Oct. 5, 2012. “It was exciting, man. I look forward to more of them.”The alcohol and drug relapse during the offseason, the tumultuous breakup with the Los Angeles Angels and trade back to the Rangers, and the divorce and child custody conflict with his wife seemed to fade the moment he put on his uniform again.”I’ve kind of been under a microscope my whole life, really,” Hamilton said. “It’s a reality check. You have to grow up. You have to live your life differently, make decisions differently.”Hamilton, 34, has four daughters who live with their mother, Katie. He wants to see them again. He wants to be a great father for them. He may be back playing the game he loves, but when asked if his four daughters would be watching his game on TV, he had no idea. The divorce proceedings apparently have halted communication.Sure, maybe you can blame the relapse on troubles at home, but Hamilton certainly made it clear Monday he was taking full responsibility for his actions.