Hamilton cleared to leave hospital after treatment for pneumonia

AL MVP Josh Hamilton(notes) finally left a Dallas-area hospital Sunday after spending five days undergoing treatment for an early case of pneumonia.

That's great news for the Texas Rangers slugger, who was diagnosed a week ago and spent extra time in the hospital — he originally was supposed to stay a day or so — "to receive complete rest and accelerate his full recovery," the club said.

Doctors taking extra precautions with Hamilton is not surprising, but it's still scary given his history of drug abuse.

Hamilton's well-publicized addictions not only derailed his baseball career, caused havoc with his relationships and even endangered his life at the time, they also put his health at risk, probably, for as long as he lives.

As Hamilton himself acknowledged in a 2007 first-person story for ESPN Magazine:

It's not always easy, though. I got sick in late May and ended up on the disabled list after going to the hospital with a stomach problem, and I knew I'd have to answer questions about whether I was using again. I can't control what people think, but the years of drug abuse tore up my immune system pretty good.

Hamilton has a busy week ahead — it's awards banquet season — and doctors just wanted to make sure he was OK. Pneumonia can kill, of course, though an athletic 29-year-old such as Hamilton would seem fairly impervious to it. Until you factor in the consequences of drug abuse.

That, above all else — his playing career, his status as a role model, whatever — is why it's critical for Hamilton to stay clean of drugs, alcohol, etc.

And why there's no such thing as a routine hospital stay for Josh Hamilton.

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