Hamilton struggles as DH in rehab start
DES MOINES, Iowa -- When the Texas Rangers sent Josh Hamilton to Triple-A Oklahoma City for rehabilitation, they didn't envision their All-Star slugger getting two games' worth of at-bats in one night.
That's essentially what Hamilton got Wednesday, when he went 1 for 7 and struck out twice as the designated hitter for the Redhawks in a 1-0 victory over Iowa that went 14 innings.
Hamilton was expected to play center field, but the Rangers decided to play it safe and use him as the DH. Hamilton, who led off the game by striking out, singled up the middle in the 10th and struck out to end the 14th.
"My first at-bat I was a little anxious, you know, just being out there. And then after that, you could see the progression of at-bats getting better and that's what you want to see," Hamilton said.
Hamilton will likely play in the field for the RedHawks on Thursday and possibly Friday as well. He said he's hoping to rejoin Texas for Saturday's home game against Tampa Bay.
Hamilton has been on the disabled list since May 31 with a slight abdominal tear. He has played in 35 games for the Rangers this season, batting .240 with six homers and 24 RBIs.
"I'm ready about four days ago," Hamilton said before Wednesday's game. "Right now, everything is fixed. Everything is better. I'm just going through the soreness as far as getting into game shape. It almost feels a little bit like spring training again."
Hamilton, now three weeks removed from surgery, went 1 for 4 with a stolen base as the DH for Double-A Frisco on Monday night. On Tuesday, he shagged fly balls and took batting practice before joining the Redhawks in Des Moines, where they are playing a three-game series against Iowa.
"I guess with the day off yesterday, they don't want me to jump right into the field. They want to give me another day swinging the bat and running around the bases," Hamilton said.
The real test for Hamilton will be when he plays the field. Both of his trips to the disabled list this season followed injuries sustained crashing into walls.
Hamilton got hurt making a catch on May 17, less than a week after he was activated from the DL after straining a rib cage muscle when he smashed into another wall.
Though Hamilton said he won't think about his recent bad luck in the outfield once he gets back up to Texas, he acknowledged that he'll be more cautious moving forward.
"I told my wife that I would, unless it was going to the playoffs or in the World Series, I wouldn't actually run smack into the wall again," Hamilton said. "It depends on what the situation calls for."
Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press