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Monday, June 2, 2008 - Page updated at 03:56 PM

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Rangers' Hamilton is AL's player of month _ again

AP Sports Writer

ARLINGTON, Texas —

Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton, who has made an inspiring comeback from drug and alcohol abuse, was chosen as the American League player of the month for May on Monday.

Hamilton became the first American League player to win the monthly award in April and May the same season.

"I come to the park, I know what I need to do to get ready for the game and I do it. Nothing is going to change," Hamilton said. "I want to work harder and I want to do better."

Hamilton went into a Monday night game against Cleveland hitting .328 with a major league-best 63 RBIs, 13 more than the next-closest player. He led the AL with 15 homers, 77 hits and 25 multihit games. Hamilton had eight homers and 29 RBIs in May, when the Rangers won 19 games for their winningest month since June 1983.

"This guy played better in May than he did in April, and I hope he plays better in June than he did in May," manager Ron Washington said. "He's doing everything. If we need him to get a clutch hit, he gets it. If an RBI's out there, he gets it. He gets two-out base hits, he plays outfield, runs the bases."

Lance Berkman of the Houston Astros won the National League award for May after hitting .471 for the month with nine homers.

Hamilton played in 57 of the Rangers' first 58 games, but didn't want to be out of the lineup Monday when Washington asked the outfielder about taking a night off.

The No. 1 overall draft pick by Tampa Bay in 1999, Hamilton went on the minor league disabled list in 2001. He tried alcohol and cocaine for the first time, and subsequently battled addictions to both until he got sober in October 2005.

There were multiple failed drug tests and suspensions from baseball, and he didn't play from 2002 until the summer of 2006, when he played only 15 games at the lowest rung of the minor leagues before getting hurt again.

Cincinnati acquired him in the Rule 5 draft during the 2006 winter meetings after the Rays didn't protect him on their 40-man roster, and he hit .292 with 19 homers and 47 RBIs in 298 at-bats last season for the Reds. The Rangers acquired Hamilton last winter in a trade for right-hander Edinson Volquez.

"To get back here and play baseball at the major league level is a great thing," Hamilton said. "I had a dream before I got into baseball to be in the home run derby in baseball. You know how they interview you after that, I'd like to be able to tell people what Christ has done in my life. Hopefully I get a chance to do that."

After the Rangers' loss Sunday, Hamilton shared his testimony and did a question-and-answer session with about 500 fans.

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"Everything I do is for (Christ). If he wants me to win an award, then I guess he wants me to do that," Hamilton said Monday. "I take it as not going out and trying to do it because when you try to do it, you can't."

The last AL player to win consecutive player of the month awards was Alex Rodriguez, while with the Rangers in July and August of 2002. Rodriguez had been the only Texas player to win the award in consecutive months.

Three National League players have been player of the month in April and May; the last was Mark McGwire for St. Louis in 1998. The others were Cincinnati's Eric Davis in 1987, and Pittsburgh's Bobby Bonilla in 1988.

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