Angels OF Josh Hamilton will not be suspended by MLB

Los Angeles Angels outfielder Josh Hamilton will not be suspended by Major League Baseball for suffering a relapse in his sobriety.
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Los Angeles Angels outfielder Josh Hamilton will not be suspended by Major League Baseball for suffering a relapse in his sobriety, the league announced on Friday. 

An outside arbitrator ruled that Hamilton's conduct did not violate his treatment program, and thus MLB cannot suspend or discipline the player. The league's office of the commissioner said it disagrees with the decision, and "will seek to address deficiencies in the manner in which drugs of abuse are addressed under [MLB's Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program] in the collective bargaining process."

The Angels released a statement about the arbitrator’s decision, saying they were not involved, but will support Hamilton. 

“The Angels have serious concerns about Josh’s conduct, health and behavior and we are disappointed that he has broken an important commitment which he made to himself, his family, his teammates and our fans. We are going to do everything possible to assure he receives proper help for himself and for the well-being of his family.”

Hamilton met with league officials in New York in late February about a disciplinary issue. CBS Sports' Jon Heyman later reported that Hamilton suffered a relapse in his sobriety a couple months ago that involved the use of cocaine and since confessed to MLB.

CORCORAN: Suspending Josh Hamilton would be the wrong move for MLB

The 33-year-old was then placed in the league's treatment program.

A four-person panel consisting of two attorneys and two physicians—MLB's commissioner's office and the players association appointed one of each—was deadlocked over how to punish Hamilton for a relapse of substance abuse.

The panel had to first determine if Hamilton violated the league's drug policy. The outside arbitrator was brought in to break the tie by the panel. 

When he was a Tampa Bay Rays minor leaguer last decade, Hamilton failed at least six drug tests, according to the Los Angeles Times, and was suspended from baseball from 2004-06.

The outfielder is currently rehabbing his right shoulder after undergoing surgery and isn't expected to return to the field until May at the earliest.

Hamilton was named the American League MVP in 2010 after hitting .359 with 32 home runs and 100 RBIs. He signed a five-year, $125 million contract with the Angels in 2013.

- Molly Geary