Josh Hamilton is injured, which, according to Twitter, everyone saw coming. And somewhere in Southern California, Angels owner Arte Moreno probably patted himself on the back.
Hamilton will miss the next month after an MRI exam detected a strained left hamstring. The Texas Rangers delivered the news Wednesday night after their 9-2 loss, and manager Jeff Banister didn’t seem to be in the mood to discuss how the Rangers planned to fill Hamilton’s void.
“We had a lineup before he got here,” Banister said. “We’ll go ahead and continue to use the lineup before he got here.”
1. Delino DeShields/Leonys Martin/Jake Smolinski: Boring, but this one seems most likely with Martin getting a reprieve from the bench or Smolinski getting at-bats against left-handers. DeShields has been the Rangers’ biggest surprise and has been on of their biggest offensive assets during their resurgence.
That would allow the Rangers to go back to a three-man bench by recalling a pitcher to take Hamilton’s roster spot. Maybe the Rangers fell their hand is forced and they have to recall Rougned Odor. If they just want a bench piece who can hit, Tomas Telis has deserving numbers.
2. Joey Gallo: This would fire up the fan base, though it might not fire up the Rangers. Gallo has played left field this season, a handful of games at Double A Frisco. Those games, and some others during the fall instructional league, account for all his experience there.
He definitely has the arm to play the outfield, and he is athletic enough to chase balls down. But the inexperience would make him a defensive liability, as it did Ryan Rua late last season.
Gallo would play primarily third base until Adrian Beltre is back and then get an extra week or two in the majors until Hamilton returns. That assumes, of course, that Gallo is a productive player at the plate.
3. Mitch Moreland: He hasn’t played the outfield this season, but played their often in college and in the minors. He even has logged big-league outfield time.
The Rangers, though, consider his defense at first base to be an asset, so much so that he has relegated Prince Fielder to designated hitter. That came with Fielder’s blessing.
Fielder could return to first base or Gallo could play there, too, as he has done in the minors.
The issue with Moreland is health. He is a year removed for an ankle reconstruction, and the Rangers have been leery of putting him in a position where he would have to cover so much ground.
4. Rua/Kyle Blanks: Neither player will be immediately available, but will be options toward the second half of Hamilton’s recovery. Rua (ankle) will begin a rehab assignment Thursday with Triple A Round Rock after flight issues Wednesday, and is tentatively scheduled to stay there a couple weeks.
Rua hasn’t played since April 10, so he won’t be playing nine innings out of the shoot. He needs at-bats, since he barely has 100 in his big-league career, and the Rangers also want him to work at the infield corners.
Blanks (cyst) is moving to extended spring training and isn’t sure when the pain will subside enough for him to play.
5. Michael Choice/other: The biggest thing Choice has going for him is that he’s on the 40-man roster. He’s also on a five-game hitting streak that his boosted his average to … .217.
The Rangers’ best minor-league outfielder is Nomar Mazara at Double A Frisco. He’s not on the 40-man, he’s barely 20 years old, and he was a singles hitter for pretty much the first month of the season with a .339 slugging percentage.
But he has slugged at .441 since April and has always had command of the strike zone. If Mazara is coming fast, as many believe he is, why not give him a trial similar to the one Gallo is getting?
Jeff Wilson, 817-390-7760