An arbitrator will decide whether Los Angeles Angels outfielder Josh Hamilton should enter rehab.
A four-person panel consisting of two attorneys and two physicians—Major League Baseball's commissioner's office and the players association appointed one of each—is reportedly deadlocked over how to punish Hamilton for a relapse of substance abuse. Hamilton met with MLB officials in New York last week after reports indicated he admitted to a relapse involving the use of cocaine and alcohol.
The four-person panel is first tasked with determining if a player violated MLB's drug policy. Then it decides how to discipline the player.
[daily_cut.mlb]While he was a Tampa Bay Rays minor leaguer last decade, Hamilton failed at least six drug tests, according to the Times, and was suspended from baseball from 2004-06.
MLB officials are reportedly considering whether to classify Hamilton as a fourth-time offender of its drug policy. Penalties vary depending on how many violations a player has committed: 15 to 25 games for a first offense, 25 to 50 games for a second, 50 to 75 for a third and at least one full season for a fourth.
First-year commissioner Rob Manfred will make the final verdict on the length of a suspension.
Hamilton, 33, overcame his drug issues with the Texas Rangers with five All-Star seasons from 2008-12. He was named the American League MVP in 2010 after hitting .359 with 32 home runs and 100 RBI.
In 2013, Hamilton signed a five-year, $125 million contract with the Angels. His numbers dipped in his first two seasons in Los Angeles, as he hit .250 over 151 games in 2013 and .263 over 89 games in 2014.
Hamilton did not report for the beginning of Angels spring training last month while he continues rehabilitation from right shoulder surgery. Prior to the reports of his relapse, Hamilton wasn't expected to return to the field until May at the earliest.
- Mike Fiammetta