The Texas Rangers released Josh Hamilton from his minor league contract Friday after another knee injury, perhaps signaling the end of the 2010 AL MVP’s career.
Team spokesman John Blake said Hamilton, who was a star at Athens Drive High School in Raleigh in the late 1990s, injured his right knee while recovering from left knee surgery and will have a procedure on the newly injured knee at some point.
Hamilton, who turns 36 next month, underwent reconstructive surgery on his left knee last June and left the team during spring training for another procedure after experiencing soreness.
The procedure during spring training was the 11th of Hamilton’s career and third since the five-time All-Star last played in the majors in 2015.
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“I am disappointed but not discouraged that my knee problems have not allowed me to play this season,” Hamilton said. “I plan to have surgery on my right knee and then evaluate the situation.”
Hamilton was the No. 1 overall pick out of high school in 1999. His career was almost derailed by drug and alcohol addiction before he made his big league debut with Cincinnati in 2007.
The left-handed slugger joined the Rangers in an offseason trade, starting his five-year All-Star run in 2008. The stretch included 142 home runs, 506 RBIs and the only two World Series trips in club history.
“Josh will forever hold a place in Rangers history as one of the most talented, charismatic and productive players to wear our uniform,” Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said. “We wish him all the best in his upcoming recovery, and with his family.”
Hamilton signed a $125 million, five-year contract with the Los Angeles Angeles ahead of the 2013 season, then started his injury-plagued decline. He came back to Texas in a trade two years ago.
This is the final year of his major league contract, and the Angels are paying the Rangers $22 million, which covers most of the $24 million Hamilton is due. His minor league contract called for a $20,000 monthly salary.