Josh Hamilton will take the next step in his march back into the Texas Rangers’ lineup Sunday as he begins a rehab assignment with Triple A Round Rock at Nashville.
The left fielder played Friday in an extended spring game on his 11th day in Surprise, Ariz., and was deemed ready for a higher level of competition. The Rangers have no set plan for how long Hamilton will be with Round Rock.
Round Rock returns home for a four-game series Tuesday but hits the road again next weekend. The Rangers are home for seven games beginning Monday before on off day May 18 ahead of a nine-game road trip to Boston, New York and Cleveland.
“In the case of guys that are on rehab, it’s meeting the criteria of the rehab and then evaluate the quality,” manager Jeff Banister said. “It’s about him being in shape and having his legs underneath him and the ability to repeat daily how he feels.”
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Hamilton had surgery on his right shoulder Feb. 4 and did not participate in any activities during spring training with the Los Angeles Angels, who became disgruntled with Hamilton after a relapse with cocaine and shipped him to the Rangers on April 20.
Hamilton said that he weighed 242 pounds upon reporting to the Surprise Recreation Campus on April 21, and he hopes to maintain that weight throughout the season. Hamilton, who turns 34 on May 21, is expected to become the everyday left fielder and bat in the middle of a lineup that continues to have the worst batting average (.224) in the American League.
“He’ll be able to tell us when he’s ready,” Banister said. “How many at-bats that’ll be, we’ll evaluate that with him involved.”
First baseman Mitch Moreland will meet Hamilton in Nashville. The first baseman will begin a three-game rehab assignment Saturday with the expectation of being activated from the DL on Wednesday.
Holland on hold
Left-hander Derek Holland won’t throw for at least two more weeks after having an MRI exam on his injured shoulder, a delay that could keep him out until the All-Star break.
The scan showed that the subscapularis muscle he strained during the home opener April 10 is healing, but it isn’t healthy enough to start a throwing program.
“It’s not quietly exactly where we want it,” Holland told KRLD/105.3 The Fan. “It is getting stronger. They were pretty pleased with the way everything has been going, but we’re going to take a little more time to get this right. The main thing is I don’t want to go backwards. Everything going great. We’re just extending the time a little bit.”
Outfielder Ryan Rua, also injured during the home opener, is doing more weight-bearing activities on his right foot and ankle, and will start a program that will get him back into baseball activities.
Center fielder Leonys Martin will return to the Rangers’ lineup Saturday assuming he has no setbacks after his first full day of baseball activities since spraining his left wrist Monday.
Martin participated in early batting practice and said that the wrist was 85 percent healthy. He also took regular BP and was available off the bench, Banister said.
Martin, though, won’t return to the top of the Rangers’ lineup. Shin-Soo Choo will continue to bat first, where he has been since Monday. The Rangers won all four games.
“I like the look of Choo right now,” Banister said. “The aggressiveness of the swing and working the count.”
Choo said that he likes having the chance to set a tone for the lineup. He went 1 for 4 Thursday with a double, a base-loaded walk and three strikeouts. He also worked three full counts.
His average has climbed from .094 to .159 during the seven-game hitting streak he took into Friday.
“I’m still aggressive in the leadoff spot, but I’m more focused on getting on base,” Choo said. “I feel better than in April. I’m close. I feel like one thing is missing.”
Jeff Wilson, 817-390-7760