Tampa GM Admits Mistake With Josh Hamilton Tearing Up The American League

The St. Petersburg Times has a nice feature story on Texas Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton’s comeback to his original team, Tampa.

“In retrospect, clearly we made a mistake,” Friedman said Saturday. “His success is really incredible. It’s a testament to Josh and his determination. It’s an amazing story. A number of people in our organization helped him on his path, and except when we’re playing against the Rangers, we’re all rooting for his continued success.”

Hamilton, who turned 27 last week, said he’ll always be grateful to the Rays for his first chance, and specifically to Friedman for his second. He doesn’t accuse them of giving up on him, but he doesn’t absolve them, either.

“I don’t know what to think about the situation,” he said. “I think what was supposed to happen, happened. Oh well, I’m doing all right.”

The Rays made an error in judgment, magnified because shortly after the draft they dumped some bit players off the 40-man roster, middle reliever Travis Harper and extra outfielder Damon Hollins.

The way Hamilton has played — hitting .337 with 12 homers and 53 RBIs — has made it look worse.

Opposing players are staying in the dugout to watch him take batting practice. (“He’s just a freak of nature,” Baltimore’s Aubrey Huff said.) Teammates rave about him as a player and a person. (“He’s our guy,” infielder Ian Kinsler said.) The Rangers have been so impressed they are considering signing him to a long-term deal. (“After seeing him for a while, nothing Josh does surprises me,” manager Ron Washington said.)

Even some of the Rays, seeing the highlights and checking his stats, admit to wondering, What if he were in rightfield?

“How could you not?” pitcher James Shields said. “I can just imagine what it would be like.”

“You think about it all the time,” leftfielder Carl Crawford said. “But it was just one of those things. You just didn’t know that (his amazing play) was going to happen. You knew he could do it, but you didn’t know if it ever would happen. It’s good to see him doing well. It would have been nice to have him over here, though.”

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