The 2010 American League MVP struggled with injuries in '11 but is off to an outstanding start, leading the AL with nine homers and hitting .395.
DAN PATRICK:Which will happen first, someone hits .375, or 60 HRs?
JOSH HAMILTON: .375
DP:What's your high in HRs?
JH: Regular season: 32. I added five more during that  postseason.
DP: That qualified you as a power hitter in the 1970s.
JH: We're reverting back to old school.
DP:Why has the air come out of these numbers?
JH: The era we had.
DP:Are you glad you are at the peak of your career after [the steroid era]?
JH: I always tell people I did everything but something to enhance my baseball play. My dad always told me if you can hit a ball 400 feet and throw someone out from the track, why do you need it?
DP:Were you ever tempted?
DP:Were you ever offered?
JH: I wouldn't say offered, but I knew it was available.
DP:Are PEDs still prevalent in the game?
JH: No, not at all. I came up in 1999, and we had all the big boys in Tampa Bay. Seeing those guys bodywise compared to the guys now, there's a huge difference.
DP:Was Jose Canseco in Tampa Bay?
JH: He was.
DP:Did you look at him and think that can't be real?
JH: I wouldn't be human if I didn't think that.
DP:Have you been told you're part of the longer-term plans in Texas?
JH: Told they want me to be, but....
DP:There's a way to show you. Have they talked bottom line?
JH: Not really. A relapse in the off-season kind of put a hold on things. I told [my agent] if talks get opened during the season, that's great. I don't want to know every little detail. I didn't want to cause any friction while the season's going on.
DP:What happened right before you ended up in a bar?
JH: You think, Why can everybody else do it and I can't. That always gets you into trouble. You forget for a little period of time what kind of chaos it caused in your life. And you say, O.K., maybe I can handle a couple.
DP:When did you realize Rangers pitcher Yu Darvish was the real deal?
JH: With three or four games left to go in spring training.
DP:Did you have doubts about him?
JH: No. I had a good feeling about him. It's different in Japan. Crowds are bigger here. Baseballs are different. He's showed you over his last three starts, I got it.
DP:You have [nine] home runs and Albert Pujols has [none]. Who will end up with more at the end of the year?
JH: Seeing how I don't like to talk about myself, I'm going to say Pujols.
DP:Is that because you've never hit more than 32 in a season?
JH: But that's 32 with six weeks of the season always cut off because I'm laid up somewhere.
DP:Who will have more World Series home runs this year?
JH: I don't know.
DP:You're honest about everything else.
JH: You're not going to draw me into it.
DP:I'm trying to get you to nibble on some weak cheese.
JH: O.K., obviously me.
"He's brilliant, but he's around people that don't have a clue. They won't challenge him, and the more you challenge him, the more you get from him."
—Larry Brown, new SMU coach, on working for Michael Jordan in Charlotte
GUEST SHOTS SAY WHAT?
The Ravens' Ray Lewis told me QBs entering the NFL have a different set of skills than rookies did 10 years ago. "College quarterbacks are throwing 60 times a game," Lewis said. "They're basically telling them to find the open man. A lot of the thinking that used to go with [being a quarterback], that's out. The select few who [still think like that] stick out like sore thumbs." ... I asked NBA commissioner David Stern if he would embrace players on draft night as warmly as the NFL's Roger Goodell did last week. "I'm set in my ways," Stern said. "I'm into handshakes. I could do a knuckle bump or a high five." ... Nuggets coach George Karl has a solution to the controversy about paying Olympic basketball players: "I don't think we should give them money," Karl said. "Give them a lot prizes and presents, [like] a free membership to Augusta." ... I asked John L. Smith if he would've left Weber State to take over for Bobby Petrino at Arkansas if the Razorbacks didn't have top 10 talent. "It would have been much more difficult," Smith said. "That had to weigh into the decision."
MICHAEL J. LEBRECHT II/1DEUCE3 PHOTOGRAPHY (PATRICK)
CARY EDMONDSON/US PRESSWIRE (HAMILTON)
WESLEY HITT/GETTY IMAGES (SMITH)
JOHN W. MCDONOUGH (KARL AND STERN)
AL TIELEMANS (LEWIS)