Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton did not start again Tuesday, his third consecutive day out of the lineup with a sore left knee.
Hamilton doesn’t expect to return before Thursday’s series opener at Detroit, although manager Jeff Banister said he remains an option to pinch-hit off the bench.
Hamilton’s precarious status, along with the hand injury to former starting center fielder Leonys Martin (who is now on the disabled list with Triple A Round Rock), forced the Rangers to make a move for Padres outfielder Will Venable in exchange for minor league catcher Marcus Greene and a player to be named later. Greene was hitting .218 with Low A Hickory this season. To make room on the 40-man roster, outfielder Michael Choice was designated for assignment. Choice, who attended Mansfield Timberview and UT Arlington, struggled at the plate in his two seasons in the Rangers’ organization. He was hitting .244 with 12 homers for Round Rock.
Venable, 32, a former seventh-round pick in 2005, was hitting .258 with six homers and 30 RBIs in 98 games this season. He has a .252 batting average over nine seasons. He peaked in 2013, batting .268 with 22 homers, 53 RBIs and a .796 on-base plus slugging percentage.
“He’s a smart player, tremendous reputation on and off the field,” Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said. “He can run, has some power, can play all three [outfield positions]. He gives us some depth in the case of an injury, Josh’s knee nagging or something else coming up down the line. We’re a little thin in the outfield and he gives us protection in all three spots.”
Before Tuesday’s game and before the trade was announced at about 7:15 p.m., Hamilton ruled out going on the disabled list. An MRI exam showed there is no structural damage to his knee, but Daniels said a DL stint would be considered if the pain doesn’t ease soon.
“I’m still optimistic that he’ll be OK but I didn’t want to be caught off guard if it lingers longer than we want,” Daniels said. “If he doesn’t improve, at some point we have to consider that.”
Daniels said Martin’s hamate bone injury on his right hand doesn’t require surgery. Doctors suspect it’s an older injury that Martin aggravated. He hopes to rehab and return to action this season. Daniels said it will likely require surgery in the off-season.
As for Hamilton, he’s hoping another couple days’ rest is all he needs to start Thursday against the Tigers.
“It’s really a day-to-day thing,” Hamilton said. “I can be in extreme pain one day and then two days later feel OK. That’s kind of what we’re hoping for.”
Rookie Ryan Strausborger has played well in place of Hamilton, which made the decision easier for Banister. Hamilton has been productive when he’s available.
“If he continues to give us something like he’s been giving us I’ll continue to take that. This is a guy, when he’s in our lineup, he does make a difference,” Banister said.
Hamilton’s availability off the bench is limited, however, at the moment. If he got on base he’d most likely need to be replaced by a pinch-runner.
Hamilton says the pain can be almost nonexistent when he’s sitting but flares up when he puts pressure on it.
“It’s just an old knee,” said Hamilton, who has tried to stay positive while missing nearly half of the Rangers’ games since rejoining the club on May 25.
“I can’t get too frustrated. I kind of pulled everything pretty quick to get ready for the season. I didn’t have that normal ramp up coming off the off-season with spring training,” he said.
But his morale remains up with the Rangers still in postseason contention.
“It’s frustrating, but at the same time I’m very excited because we’re right in the mix of things and I think we’re in a good position and right where we’d like to be at this point in the season.”
Catcher Robinson Chirinos (left shoulder strain) was to be evaluated by a doctor before Tuesday’s game and hopes to get the green light to take live batting practice. Chirinos said, if cleared, he expects to start a minor league rehab stint by the end of the week.
The Rangers-Mariners Monday night game scored a season-high 5.3 TV rating on Fox Sports Southwest in Dallas-Fort Worth. It’s the highest-rated Rangers game on the regional sports network since 2013, according to Nielsen Media Research.
Stefan Stevenson, 817-390-7760