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Friday, September 24, 2010

Josh Hamilton Hoping to Return to Rangers Lineup for Last Series

Josh HamiltonJosh Hamilton's broken ribs have kept him out of action since the early part of this month, but he's determined to get back on the field before the playoffs begin.

He told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram Thursday
that the Rangers' final series of the year is a "reasonable" target for his return to the field, though he may be back even a bit before that. That would give him a chance to test the ribs out for a few games before the playoffs begin for the Rangers on the following Wednesday or Thursday.

Since Hamilton's been out, the Rangers are 9-7 and have more or less closed out the AL West. Their magic number is four with 11 games left on the calendar, and they play the second-place A's Thursday, which means that they could halve that number. They could clinch the division as early as Friday, depending on the next two days' results.

Even though the Rangers have played fairly well in his absence, it's impossible to replace Hamilton's .361/.414/.635 line, his 31 home runs and 40 doubles or his defense in the outfield; all of these things made him seem like a lock for the AL MVP award before his injury.

With a best-of-5 playoff series looming against either the Yankees or Rays, the Rangers will almost certainly need Hamilton to advance to the American League Championship Series for the first time in team history. The more playing time he gets before that first round starts, the better off the Rangers will be.

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