Commissioner Rob Manfred said that Josh Hamilton’s rehabilitation from right shoulder surgery has eliminated any sense of urgency in determining a penalty for the Angels left fielder, who suffered a relapse in his battle with substance abuse.
“Because Josh isn’t in a position where he’s going to be on the field, it has made the timing a little more relaxed,” Manfred said Monday in a meeting with reporters at Dodgers camp in Glendale, Ariz. “Beyond that, I just can’t say anything.”
Hamilton, who survived a harrowing addiction to become a five-time All-Star with the Texas Rangers, met with Major League Baseball officials in New York on Feb. 25 for a disciplinary issue. Both CBSSports.com and the New York Daily News reported that Hamilton had used cocaine and alcohol.
Hamilton, who turns 34 in May, is known to have failed at least six drug tests as a Tampa Bay Rays minor leaguer more than a decade ago, and he was suspended from the game from 2004-06.
Hamilton has not been in camp with the Angels this spring, and he was not issued a locker in the team’s Tempe Diablo Stadium clubhouse. The Angels granted him permission to rehabilitate his injury, which was expected to sideline him until late April or early May, in Houston.
There have been extensive negotiations between MLB and the players union to determine the number of times Hamilton has violated his treatment program and whether he should enter a rehabilitation program for substance abuse.
Suspensions for players who fail to fulfill terms of a drug-treatment program range from 15 to 25 games for an initial violation, 25-50 games for a second violation, 50 to 75 games for a third violation, at least one year for a fourth violation and commissioner’s discretion for any subsequent violations.
Manfred said confidentiality provisions in the drug program prevent him from discussing Hamilton’s case, but he made it clear that Hamilton’s fate is in his hands.
“I’m the decision-maker on that one,” Manfred said of the Hamilton case. “And it’s just not appropriate” to comment.