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Rays' Hamilton to miss season

Former No. 1 overall pick granted personal leave

Posted: Tuesday May 13, 2003 1:01 PM
Updated: Tuesday May 13, 2003 1:01 PM

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (Ticker) -- Tampa Bay Devil Rays prospect Josh Hamilton, who has gone from top pick to top bust, has been granted a personal leave for the rest of the season, the team announced Tuesday.

Hamilton, who has been playing at Class AA Orlando of the Southern League, was granted the leave just 10 days after he returned from a mysterious six-week absence.

The Devil Rays did not give a reason for Hamilton's latest departure, saying only, "The purpose of the leave is to provide Josh an opportunity to address certain private, non-baseball matters."

Linda Hamilton, Josh's mother, told the St. Petersburg Times that her son is "just taking some personal time, like everyone else. He's fine. It's just some personal time."

He has yet to play this season.

Hamilton, who turns 22 on May 21, was the No. 1 pick in the 1999 draft out of Athens Drive High School in Raleigh, N.C. But injuries have prevented him from playing more than 96 games in a season.

The 2003 season began with an unexplained absence.

Upon returning to baseball on May 3, Hamilton said his absence was not related to drug, alcohol or legal issues and that he received counseling for a form of depression caused by family issues and professional pressures.

Hamilton's biggest problems had been injuries. He missed more than 230 games over his first four professional seasons, thanks to shoulder, back, rib cage, elbow and quadriceps problems.

Through 251 minor league games between Rookie ball and Class AA, Hamilton is hitting .295 with 33 home runs, 166 RBIs and 44 stolen bases.

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