ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Josh Hamilton may have found a solution to his penchant for flinging bats into the stands while swinging: spray glue.
The Texas Rangers slugger was growing increasingly concerned over his tendency to send bats flying end-over-end toward spectators — and the occasional projectile that had on-deck hitter Adrian Beltre ducking for cover.
Months of searching led to a trip to the hardware store for a $10 aerosol can of glue often used for upholstery and fabric inside cars. He hasn't thrown a bat since the discovery on the last homestand.
"No matter how hot it is, it stays sticky," Hamilton said of the glue that he sprays on the bat handle.
Hamilton's bat-tossing became something of a sideshow earlier this season. It isn't known how many times he's done it, but he had multiple tosses in one game. At one point, home fans behind the Rangers' dugout — where most of the bats land — started bringing signs, including one with a target that said: "Josh hit it here."
"I don't want to take a chance on anyone getting hurt," said Hamilton, who left Friday night's 5-1 loss to Minnesota early with back spasms and is day to day. "I was getting irritated with it. I've tried everything."
A Rangers clubhouse attendant found the spray and brought it to the ballpark in late June. Hamilton's name and No. 32 are on the dark red bottle that was sitting in the dugout near the batting helmets before Friday night's game against Minnesota.
With the All-Star game approaching, the discovery could not have come at a better time.
"At times, you can lose your focus because of it," said hitting coach Scott Coolbaugh, who has watched Hamilton struggle mentally with the bat-throwing problem. "There were some at-bats where (Hamilton) was so worried about throwing the bat that he ended up striking out or not focusing on the ball. It can mess with your mind a little bit."
Because Hamilton injured his right middle finger during a high school baseball tournament, his grip is weak. The problem reaches its peak on off-speed pitches when Hamilton tried to extend the bat as far as possible.
"It's like 'phump,'" he said, describing the noise the bat makes as it leaves his hands. "It surprises me when it happens, just like it surprises everybody else."