Hamilton, in Garland to speak to a group of kids at a free hitting clinic with teammate David Murphy and MLB Network's Harold Reynolds, reiterated a few times that he loves it with the Rangers. But he also said that he'd be willing to test the free-agent waters if his contract expires at the end of the season without a new deal.
"It always comes down to being treated fairly," Hamilton said. "I've been this way since I was signed out of high school. Treat me fair and don't come in with ridiculously low stuff."
Hamilton has been through an eventful offseason. Not only has he been rehabbing, but his mentor for 20 years, Johnny Narron, the club's assistant hitting coach and the man the Rangers hired to be with Hamilton while he continues his recovery from substance abuse, has left the team to be the hitting coach for the Milwaukee Brewers.
The rehab has gone smoothly. Hamilton said he's been doing pool exercises, a lot of stability stuff with his core. He said he is 90 percent healthy and feels better than he did during the postseason.
"I've been doing the normal stuff -- some Jane Fondas," Hamilton said. "You can imagine what those look like.
"The day after the surgery, I walked two miles. I did that every day in the first week, and then on the seventh day, I started running. Everything that was detached got reattached, and I'm good to go."
It remains to be seen how things will go without Narron, who had been with Hamilton all four seasons in Texas. Hamilton has won an MVP with the Rangers in 2010 and has averaged 25 home runs and 95 RBIs per season in Texas.
During that time, Narron also served as Hamilton's accountability partner.
Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said he has met with Hamilton and his wife, Katie, last weekend about how to support Hamilton with Narron gone. They will meet again before Spring Training.
Hamilton pointed to Murphy, who was at Tuesday's event to hit since Hamilton isn't ready, as a possible support partner. Murphy is Hamilton's best friend on the team and leads a faith-based life similar to Hamilton's.
Hamilton said he talked to Narron on the phone in recent days, wished him the best and thanked him for everything.
"It's a dream come true for him," Hamilton said. "We're excited for each other. I told him on the phone, 'You've meant more to me and you've helped me and you've been there for me when I've needed you and you've seen me grow as a man and as a player, so I really appreciate everything you've done for my family.'"
As Hamilton prepares to play on without Narron, he said he will approach the season like he's in the last season of his contract. Whether a new deal gets done during the offseason or Spring Training, Hamilton said he's not going to worry about it and go out and play.
"The Rangers traditionally have not talked about it," Hamilton said of negotiations during the season. "I'd say if something was going to happen, it would happen this winter or going into Spring Training. Because they want me focused on what I got to do and what I need to do for the team to help them win."
Team president Nolan Ryan said Tuesday that nothing has been done has far as a long-term deal for Hamilton.
"Josh is a very unique player and has had a big impact on the organization," Ryan said. "If we didn't have him, it would leave a big hole in our lineup. You just can't replace Josh Hamilton. It's an ongoing process, I don't have a feel for that. It's something Josh has to feel comfortable with and the organization as to feel comfortable in. That will be worked out but I don't know when that will be resolved."
The main agenda now is for Hamilton to be healthy for Spring Training as the Rangers begin trying to reach the World Series for a third consecutive season.
"I'll be good to go for Spring Training," Hamilton said. "The plan right now is I'm going to go to do rehab and everything until January, and then when the other guys start working out, I'm good to go. If we were playing right now, I'd probably be good to go."