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Josh Hamilton won’t participate in this year’s Home Run Derby, which pleases Ron Washington greatly

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Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton paces all major leaguers in home runs and even slugged four in one game earlier this season. But he wants merely to be an observer July 9 in Kansas City, when American League captain Robinson Cano leads a group of three mashers against National League captain Matt Kemp and his own team of distance swingers.

Which, for obvious reasons, is something that Rangers manager Ron Washington fully supports.

“I didn’t help him with the decision,” Washington told columnist Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News on Wednesday evening. “But when he told me I was very, very happy he’s not doing it. He has so much torque in his swing. If he swings and misses, he could get hurt. And if he’s hurt, we’re hurt.”

Hamilton had to be given IV fluids and oxygen after a game in late May because of dehydration brought on by a combination of high-90s temperatures in Arlington, Texas and a respiratory infection. He also had back problems earlier this year, and appeared in only 121 games in 2011. The Home Run Derby is an awfully taxing event. And there’s even a belief that it can have a negative effect on a hitter’s swing.

Hamilton tallied 32 home runs during the 2008 regular season, but just 11 of those came after he put on a show in the final Derby at the old Yankee Stadium. The 31-year-old impending free agent hasn’t participated in an exhibition hitting competition since that memorable night.

Leonys Martin feared for his life from alleged human traffickers

SEATTLE, WA - SEPTEMBER 30: Leonys Martin #12 of the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field on September 30, 2016 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)
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Leonys Martin, outfielder for the Seattle Mariners, testified yesterday that he feared for his life after he was smuggled from Cuba by a group of men prosecutors say worked for a sports agent and a baseball trainer currently on trial for human trafficking in Miami.

Martin took the stand at the trial of Bartolo Hernandez and Julio Estrada, who face felony charges. He said that, after getting to Mexico from Cuba, men threatened to take him away. There was a kidnapping attempt against one of the men who had taken him from Cuba as well. Martin said that, eventually, he crossed the U.S.-Mexico border into Texas without any valid papers because his life was in danger and his safety was at risk.

Players like Martin who fled Cuba often hole up in Mexico while waiting to be declared free agents by Major League Baseball. There is pitched competition to sign agreements with the players in question, seeking to obtain promises of a cut of future baseball earnings for their services. Those promises can come under the threat of violence. Eventually, Martin promised to pay Hernandez and Estrada, but ceased paying them later, fomenting a lawsuit from them. In the wake of the suit, the allegations of threats and smuggling arose, leading to this trial.

Martin has been late to Mariners camp as a result of having to testify. He’ll likely report in the next day or so. The trial continues.

Josh Hamilton leaves camp with a tweaked knee

SURPRISE, AZ - FEBRUARY 28:  Josh Hamilton #32 of the Texas Rangers poses during a spring training photo shoot on February 28, 2016 in Surprise, Arizona.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
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Josh Hamilton was already a long shot to make the Texas Rangers roster, but his shot got even longer today, as he left camp to have his reconstructed left knee examined after experiencing pain.

As Jeff Wilson reports, Hamilton felt discomfort in the knee during the Rangers’ first full-squad spring training workout yesterday. Hamilton has had 10 knee operations in career. Which is a lot of knee operations in case you were unaware.

You have to wish good luck to Hamilton, but at the same time you have to be realistic. The guy has not played in the major leagues since 2015 and even then he didn’t play well, hitting .253 with eight home runs and 25 RBIs in 50 games. He appeared in one game last year for Double-A Frisco, on April 30. He’ll be paid $24 million this year, mostly by the Angels. One suspects that this will likewise be his last spring training.