ARLINGTON, Texas -- New entrance, new uniform, visitors' clubhouse … yeah, Josh Hamilton may still live in Texas and consider it home, but in many ways he most definitely is not home Friday.
Best moment of the morning came when his father-in-law dropped him off at The Ballpark in Arlington. As Hamilton emerged from the Nissan Altima and spoke with a security guard, he spied a couple in the background.
“Hey, man,” the guy called out. “You've gotta have a better car than that coming back in here!”
Proud owner of a spanking new five-year, $125 million deal from Texas' most bitter AL West rival, Hamilton has plenty of time to worry about his ride.
He'll find out day-by-day how much he has to worry about the fans and their reaction, but he wanted to make one thing clear right off the bat (so to speak) upon his return.
“This whole football town thing has been an absolute nightmare,” Hamilton said. “I'm glad I don't read [the newspaper and Internet].”
Hamilton told the local Dallas CBS television affiliate at the beginning of spring training that “there are true baseball fans in Texas, but it's not a true baseball town. They're supportive, but they also got a little spoiled at the same time pretty quickly.”
Speaking before Friday's game, Hamilton said that his first memories upon becoming a Ranger in 2008 was of Friday nights when “we'd have about 20,000 people there, and then September would hit and there would be 10,000 people.”
Hamilton said he will never forget talking with a security guard back then and asking where all the people went.
“High school football started,” the security guard told him.
“So it was cool to see it get better in '08 and '09,” Hamilton said. “And then in '10 see it get even better, and by the end of the season we'd have 50,000 people there on a Friday night.
“I'm glad I could be a part of it.”
Now, he is a part of the opposition. And it is the Rangers' job to stop him this weekend.
What's their scouting report?
“Aaaaahh, I'm not letting that out,” Texas manager Ron Washington says. “We're going to have to throw strikes to him and see how he reacts.
“Our plan is to stay inside of here [the clubhouse] until the first pitch.”