Josh Hamilton gets his first opportunity since an acrimonious split to face his former team, but that is no cause for the Texas Rangers outfielder to prepare any differently for Friday's series opener against the Los Angeles Angels.
Just as he did when facing the Rangers for the first time in 2013 after signing a five-year, $125 million pact with the Angels, Hamilton says he won't do anything special to get ready.
"I don't do anything more different than I usually do before the game," Hamilton told USA TODAY Sports.
"Maybe the focus is a little more there, but nothing to get back at a team for any reason, just like when I left [Texas for the Angels after the 2012 season]," Hamilton said. "When I came back, I was like, 'Just treat it like any old road game.' I'm going to treat this like any other home game."
Hamilton, who returned Tuesday from a disabled list stint for a strained hamstring, has played in only eight games this season after being reacquired by the Rangers on April 27.
Asked if he planned to meet with Angels owner Arte Moreno, who moved quickly to sever ties with the beleaguered outfielder after an offseason alcohol and cocaine relapse, Hamilton said, "No, I've tried many times in the past, even when I played for him. I've gotten turned down. As a player, I wanted to reassure him that I was doing everything I could as a player that he paid for. They said they got the message to him. Whether they did or not is his own dealing.
"I can definitely say I can sleep fine at night knowing I tried."
Hamilton's relapse, coupled with his underwhelming production and proclivity for injury, caused the 34-year-old former AL MVP to rapidly fall out of favor with Moreno. Major League Baseball declined to discipline Hamilton in any capacity after an independent arbitrator ruled the five-time All-Star could not be suspended for the substance abuse policy violations associated with the relapse, which was a surprise to the Angels front office. Moreno, eager to find a way to separate from Hamilton, agreed to pay more than $60 million of the remaining $80.2 million owed to Hamilton and took no player back from Texas in the deal.
Hamilton expressed excitement to interact with some of his former Angels teammates, though.
"It will be good to see the guys," Hamilton said. "All or most of them were behind me when we met in Houston [during the Angels' April series with the Astros] and had lunch. Everybody was cool."
Angels manager Mike Scioscia, who criticized Hamilton's treatment of his supportive club members before he was traded, is hoping Hamilton makes an effort to thank those individuals who backed him during his turbulent offseason and spring.
"I'm hoping he'll take an opportunity to thank the teammates that supported him, and to reach out to Arte and let Arte know that maybe some of the things he did weren't what he signed up to do," Scioscia told USA TODAY on Wednesday. "We'll leave it at that."