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Sports

August 14, 2008

One day at a time: Hamilton's recovery amazes teammates

Bill Burt

BOSTON — The first thing you notice after Josh Hamilton's bat meets a baseball is the sound.

Not only does it go farther quicker, but the "thwack!" has a different "thwack!" than other hired guns like David Ortiz put on a baseball.

"It doesn't make the same kind of sound everyone else makes, does it?" said Texas Rangers bench coach Art Howe before Tuesday night's game. "The sound he makes is all his."

The Josh Hamilton Show (.304 average, 28 HRs, 80 runs, league-leading 112 RBIs heading into last night), which is as impressive as the Josh Hamilton Story (he was out of pro baseball for nearly two years due to drug addiction) is in Boston this week.

He lived up to the hype in a wild 19-17 loss Tuesday, going 2 for 5 with three runs and an RBI.

It comes to town nearly a month after Hamilton wowed the baseball world in the home run derby during the All-Star festivities. It wasn't simply the number of homers he hit in that first round, 28, but how far they went.

"He's got a lot of power," said Rangers designated hitter Milton Bradley, himself a 2008 All-Star. "He's got a lot of everything."

There is not enough room here to talk about what he's done, good and bad, and where he might be going with it some day.

Here is the Reader's Digest version:

He was the first player chosen in 1999 but soon things went sour. He took 2003 off for "personal reasons." In 2004 he was out of baseball because of suspensions related to drug use and attitude. By the time he returned to pro baseball with the Hudson Valley Renegades, he hadn't played in a game in nearly four years (July 10, 2002 to June 30, 2006).

When Tampa didn't protect him on its 40-man roster, he was acquired by the Chicago Cubs (Rule 5 draft), who later dealt his rights to the Cincinnati Reds for the 2007 season.

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