FRISCO (AP) – Reigning AL MVP Josh Hamilton homered and had an infield single Wednesday night in the first game of his minor league rehab assignment that could lead to him rejoining the Texas Rangers early next week.
Hamilton didn’t have a homer in his 11 games this season with the Rangers before breaking a bone in his upper right arm. He hit an opposite-field, two-run shot to left as the designated hitter for Double-A Frisco in the third inning of an 8-7 win over Midland.
“My first at-bat (a groundout), I was a little jumpy. I was a little nervous because I haven’t hit in so long,” Hamilton said. “I came in my second at-bat, I got out in front of a two-seamer away a little bit. I still got through the ball, didn’t pull off.”
Rangers team physician Dr. Keith Meister cleared the slugger to play in rehab games after an examination and a CT scan earlier Wednesday showed “significant healing” in his bone.
The plan is for Hamilton to play in Frisco again Thursday night, then go to Triple-A Round Rock for three games this weekend. He could be back in the Rangers’ lineup after they open a six-game homestand Monday night.
Hamilton finished 2 for 4 Wednesday, including a flyout in his last at-bat. He said his timing was OK — “I’m glad it’s where it is, it could have been a lot worse,” he said — and that he had no issues with his injured arm.
“I felt it more in my lower back and foot from standing in cleats for four hours,” Hamilton said. “I’ve been running bases in cleats for a while, but just standing around is hard.”
Also Wednesday, Nelson Cruz went 0 for 4 in the third game at Frisco in his rehab for a strained right quadriceps muscle.
He had played the first two games as the DH before going in the field for the first time. He will play for the RoughRiders again Thursday and expects to rejoin the Rangers this weekend in Philadelphia.
Hamilton has been out since getting hurt April 12 at Detroit when trying to score with a headfirst slide into home. He made a daring dash to an uncovered plate on a foul popout after being told to go by third-base coach Dave Anderson.
After initially calling the play “stupid” and saying he ran because he was told to, Hamilton met with Anderson and tried publicly to clarify what he meant — that he was disappointed about being hurt — and that he didn’t blame the coach for getting hurt.
“I don’t hate the way I got hurt. I could have been smarter and not gone, but I appreciate Dave’s confidence in my ability to make it,” Hamilton reiterated Wednesday. “Could I have slid in feet-first? Yes, but I wouldn’t have made it.”
When Hamilton got hurt, the Rangers said he would be out six to eight weeks, and wouldn’t swing a bat for about a month.
Hamilton resumed taking batting practice with the Rangers last Friday, a month and a day after he got hurt. The Rangers’ game next Tuesday will be six weeks after the injury.
Hamilton last season hit a major league-leading .359 with 32 homers and 100 RBIs despite missing most of the final month of the regular season with broken ribs. He rolled his ankle and stumbled into the wall after making a catch on the warning track in Minnesota.
There were two stints on the disabled list in 2009 after separate wall-crashing catches.
“Some things I can eliminate, like putting my body face-planted diving for the ball. If I can’t get to a ball in the outfield at least for a while, I won’t go headfirst,” he said. “It always goes back to the situation in the game. If we have to have it to win, there’s no holding back. If you can get by without diving, then you do it.”
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