New York, NY (SportsNetwork.com) – Former American League MVP Josh Hamilton
will not face discipline from Major League Baseball following his recent
relapse into substances of abuse after an arbitrator was called in to decide
Hamilton met with Major League Baseball officials in February after he
apparently self-reported his use of cocaine and alcohol.
The veteran outfielder was suspended for three seasons between 2003-05 for
well-documented issues with substance-abuse and undergoes regular drug testing
as a condition of his reinstatement into baseball in 2005.
MLB officials believed Hamilton violated his treatment program with the recent
relapse, while the players’ association disagreed. After representatives from
Major League Baseball and the union on the Treatment Board deadlocked on the
issue, an arbitrator was called upon to break the tie.
The arbitrator said Hamilton did not violate terms of the agreement, although
the reasoning behind the decision was not made public.
Major League Baseball released a statement Friday saying it disagreed with the
arbitrator’s decision and “will seek to address deficiencies in the manner in
which drugs of abuse are addressed under the program in the collective
Hamilton had been spending the offseason in Houston recovering from surgery in
early February to repair the AC joint in his right shoulder when reports began
to surface about his drug relapse. He is still rehabbing from the procedure
and could return in May.
The 33-year-old slugger beat his early addiction problems and became one of
the game’s most feared hitters over a five-year span with the Texas Rangers
from 2008-12. Hamilton was named an AL All-Star in each of those seasons and
captured the league’s MVP award in 2010 when he batted .359 with 32 homers and
100 RBI and helped the Rangers to the World Series.
Hamilton signed a five-year, $125 million contract with the Angels in December
of 2012, but had a disappointing first season with the club and was limited to
just 89 games by injuries last year.
The 1999 No. 1 overall pick managed just 10 homers and 44 RBI along with a
.263 average in 2014, missing nearly two months with a calf strain and most of
September with shoulder problems. Hamilton returned for the AL Division
Series, but was hitless in 13 at-bats as the Angels were swept by Kansas City.
Hamilton admitted to having brief relapses with alcohol in both 2009 and 2012,
though those incidents were not punishable under MLB’s current drug policy.