Josh Hamilton feels good in offseason workouts

Rangers slugger Josh Hamilton says his offseason workouts are going well and he is right on schedule for the start of spring training following sports hernia surgery.

“Everything feels good,” Hamilton said Monday night. “I've been running, squatting weight, agility, swinging the bat, throwing. All of it feels good.”

Hamilton had surgery in November. He played hurt throughout the postseason for the AL champion Rangers, with a torn abdominal muscle and torn adductor muscles in his left leg.

The 2010 AL MVP and four-time All-Star is going into the last year of his contract with Texas. He is set to make $13.75 million this season as part of the $24 million, two-year deal he got before last season to avoid salary arbitration.

Now that the Rangers have completed their contract with Japanese pitcher Yu Darvish, they can turn to talks with Hamilton's agent about a possible long-term extension. Hamilton, who could become a free agent after this season, has repeatedly said he doesn't want contract talks going on once spring training starts.

“It puts a little urgency on getting something done, and if it doesn't get done, then I can focus on what I need to do, and not worry about it,” Hamilton said. “It is very important to have a clear mind and focus on what you need to do to help your team win.”

During a stop with the Rangers' winter caravan, Hamilton said he hasn't heard anything from his agent, Mike Moye. But the outfielder said he isn't stressing about it, and is spending a lot of time outside with his daughters playing with a new remote control monster car.

Even if a new deal isn't done before spring training, Hamilton said that wouldn't change his mind about wanting to stay with the two-time defending American League champions.

“Absolutely not,” he said. “We've already told the Rangers if it doesn't happen before the season, they're the first ones we come to after the season's over.”

The Rangers met earlier this month with free-agent first baseman Prince Fielder and his agent, Scott Boras.

After Darvish was introduced at Rangers Ballpark on Friday night, Rangers co-owner Bob Simpson said his personal preference would be to re-sign Hamilton over Fielder. Simpson also described Fielder as “too pricey” considering what he was seeking.

Both Hamilton and Fielder are left-handed power hitters. Hamilton is 30, three years older than Fielder, the 5-foot-11, 275-pounder who missed only one game the last three seasons with Milwaukee and has played at least 157 games each of the last six years.

“When I see guys comparing us, I'm like, stick him in the outfield, see how long he lasts. … Stick me at first base and see how long I would last,” Hamilton said. “Obviously our body types are different, too. He's played 160 games a lot, I haven't. So there's pros and cons on both sides. It's pretty funny to watch people compare us.”

The Rangers announced this month that Hamilton's father-in-law had been hired as a staff special assistant to fill a support role as an accountability partner for the slugger, who had problems with drugs and alcohol in the past. But Michael Dean Chadwick has since decided against accepting that position due to “family considerations.”

Hamilton said he has “a guy in mind” to fill that role but the person hasn't yet met with the Rangers.

Johnny Narron filled that role before he left in November to become Milwaukee's hitting coach. Narron joined the Rangers when Hamilton was acquired four years ago in a trade from Cincinnati. His primary role was to support the former No. 1 overall draft pick, who rebounded from his substance-abuse problems.

Hamilton said he plans to leave for spring training on Feb. 17, a full week before the full-squad reporting date in Arizona.

“It's time to go, baby,” he said, excitedly.

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