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Josh Hamilton once again battled injuries in 2011, and though the four-time All-Star and 2010 A.L. MVP was still productive, hitting 25 home runs and driving in 94 runs in 121 games last year, his sights are set on getting the Rangers back to the World Series.
Hamilton, among dozens of Major Leaguers who use Franklin Batting gloves, sat down this week to discuss his spring training regimen, approach at the plate and early impressions of Japanese import Yu Darvish.
The interview is courtesy of Franklin Sports, celebrating the 30th year of the first batting glove.
Q: How is spring training going so far?
Josh Hamilton: Spring training is going good. It’s going to be long, (laughs) already hurting the first week out, but, you know what, it’s well worth it and a lot of fun.
Q: As someone now established as one of the top players in the game, what do you do to improve at spring training?
JH: You know as a player what your weaknesses are, you have to identify them, and you have to work on them on a daily basis. Spring training, no pressure involved you go out and you know what type of work needs to take place and you do it and hopefully it gets better and better.
Q: You use a batting tee to train, what is the benefit of that?
JH: You don’t have to worry about tracking a ball form a pitcher’s hand or anything like that. You can really just focus on your swing, period, and where you want to hit the ball. If you set it up outside, you want to hit it outside, up the middle, middle. I actually like to set a tee on the inside part of the plate and work on keeping my hand inside the ball and hitting the ball to the left side of the cage. There are a lot of different things you can do with it, it’s very fun.
Q: The Rangers had a great past couple of years. What is it going to take to get you guys over the top to the World Series this season?
JH: Get one more out (laughs). Doing the same things that we have been doing. We have such a great group of guys, and this is something that I have never experienced and it’s fun to experience when you have a clubhouse that is as close as we are. It makes the game fun. It makes coming to work, and it is work folks, it is a game but it is what we do. It’s how we make our living, but it makes it fun. Anytime you can do something you love for a job it’s pretty special.
Q: It’s Franklin’s 30th Anniversary of the batting glove, when were you first exposed?
JH: I am going to say the first time I was exposed was when I was like eight. I was so young I didn’t really know what I had, but a few years ago I was exposed and just the service you get from the company and the actually quality of the gloves, everything about them I just love. They work well for me.
Q: You have got the carbon fiber on, this is the glove you wear on the field. Tell me why you choose this glove?
JH: It’s like anything else, I go through a lot of bats, used a lot of bats and I finally settled on the one I liked. I tried all different brands of batting gloves, and these just work the best. They custom make them, put a little pad here for me how I like it, and like I said the customer service has just been so great. You hate to go anywhere else when you have been handled so great by the company. The company has just been a class act.
Q: I noticed the Hambone on the wrist, that’s your signature nickname. What is the story behind that?
JH: You don’t want to know the story behind that (laughs). My brother was the original Hambone, he is four years older than me, and everyone called me Hambone Jr. He was out of baseball, and they just started calling me Hambone and it stuck. I have many other nicknames, but this is the one that is the original.
Q: In high school you began as a pitcher, and then you switched over to a position player. What was the reason behind the switch?
JH: Well even though I pitched, I always hit, and I love hitting. I love pitching too, but I love hitting more. I want to play everyday, I want to be out there and I don’t want to sit on the bench and watch the game. The game is boring to watch to me, but I love playing it. I just decided to try hitting, and if hitting didn’t work I could always go back to pitching, but hitting has worked out pretty good. It’s pretty fun
Q: Yu Darvish is the Rangers’ big addition this year. Have you had a chance to interact with him?
JH: Yes, I have talked with him a little bit. He seems like a pretty stand-up guy. A guy that is pretty hungry and wants to go out there and show everyone what he is capable of. I have a good feeling about him. He goes about his business and does his work like he needs to but he is also interacting with the team, and actually making an effort to fit in. We are welcoming him like we would anyone else, picking on him, giving him a hard time, but that’s just because we love him.
Q: What advice do you have for kids that are looking up to you, and want to get to the position you are in now?
JH: The biggest thing is to have fun, not put any pressure on yourself, but realize that you are playing a game. There is absolutely nothing here at the level I play at that is anything different from any kid that is playing in Little League, or Junior League or high school. Everything is exactly the same. We hit off tees, we take batting practice, we take fly balls, we take ground balls, we do all the same things. The only thing that changes in the size of the stadiums, how many people are watching, and those types of things.
Q: One last question that is a Facebook fan question. From Brandon from Baseball Youth, what is the one thing you think about most when you are on the plate, i.e. hands back, stay relaxed, or I can’t wait to have a steak after the game?
JH: The truth is, if things are going well, I am not thinking about absolutely anything. When you see me walking around, pacing around the plate with my head down and a glazed look over my eyes, it means I’m thinking and good things are probably not going to happen. So, the less thinking the better, when I do think, it’s terrible.
Topics: Batting Glove, Daily Basis, Different Things, Dozens, Franklin Batting Gloves, Franklin Sports, Hamilton Spring, Home Runs, Impressions, Japanese Import, Jh, josh hamilton, Laughs, Major Leaguers, MVP, Rangers, Spring Training, Training Regimen, World Series, Yu Darvish