Josh Hamilton trying new contacts
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Texas Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton went out for batting practice wearing contact lenses designed to cut down on the amount of light coming into his eyes to help him see the ball during the day.
The new contacts make Hamilton's eyes look red.
"I've never worn contact lenses in my life and I really would like to see the ball in the daytime, so therefore I'm trying any means possible to do that," Hamilton said. "I actually care and I want to be better and I don't want to suck in the day."
Hamilton said afterward that the contacts did help during batting practice. Manager Ron Washington throws a few batting practice sessions every day and Hamilton said normally he has trouble picking up Washington's throws because they come at him with the bleachers as the background. But he could see the ball better with the lenses on Friday.
Under the sun this season, Hamilton's numbers are dim. He is batting .122 (6-for-49) with no home runs, four RBIs and eight walks. He also has 17 strikeouts and a .429 OPS.
At night, it's a different story. Hamilton is hitting .374 (41-for-109) with six home runs, 28 RBIs, seven walks and a 1.076 OPS. And he only has 14 strikeouts while playing under the lights.
During his 2010 MVP season, the blue-eyed Hamilton hit a respectable .286 during the day and .384 at night.
Hamilton said Wednesday that he has a tougher time seeing the ball because he has blue eyes. An optometrist who talked to ESPNDallas.com on Thursday supports Hamilton's theory and explained why.
"Because of the lack of pigment in lighter color eyes -- like blue or green eyes as opposed to brown -- you get a lot more unwanted light and that can create glare problems," said Dr. Richard L. Ison, O.D., an optometrist since 1990 who currently works in Murphy, just northeast of Dallas.
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Ison said the phenomenon is called intraocular light scatter, meaning the light scatters as it enters, producing a focal point that isn't as good.
His solution for Hamilton: Find a pair of sunglasses that he's completely comfortable wearing while batting.
Maybe these new contacts will take care of the issue.
Hamilton said the contacts will be used only during day games. He's not going to change what he's been doing at night. The slugger said he talked to a few club officials about his vision during the day and they suggested the lenses.
"It's just hard for me to see [at the plate] in the daytime," Hamilton said during the pregame show on 103.3 FM ESPN on Wednesday. "It's just what it is. Try to go up [to the plate] squinting and see a white ball while the sun is shining right off the plate, you know, and beaming right up in your face."
The Rangers have two day games against the New York Mets this weekend, and Washington, who said he'd never heard anything about pigmentation in the eyes affecting at-bats during the day, plans on starting Hamilton on Saturday. He hasn't decided about Sunday yet.
Bryan Dolgin covers the Rangers for ESPN 103.3 FM in Dallas. Richard Durrett covers the Rangers for ESPNDallas.com.
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