Rangers left fielder Josh Hamilton expects to be a full-time player in the playoffs.
At least in the games.
Hamilton will limit his pregame activity on the Rogers Centre’s artificial turf before Texas opens its American League Division Series against the Toronto Blue Jays on Thursday afternoon.
Hamilton had surgery on his left knee Sept. 11, and he’s started just six of 16 games since returning Sept. 18 — twice being replaced in the eighth inning.
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I’m going to limit what I do in practice as far as running around out there on the turf and save it for the game. Once the game starts, I won’t come out until it’s over.
Rangers OF Josh Hamilton on the Rogers Centre turf
“We’ve just been trying to take it easy on the knee and not overdo it in case we’re in the situation we are in,” Hamilton said before the team’s workout Tuesday afternoon. “Going up and playing on turf is a different ballgame totally, so I’m going to limit what I do in practice as far as running around out there on the turf and save it for the game.
“Once the game starts, I won’t come out until it’s over.”
Hamilton is 6 for 22 with four RBIs in his past six starts. Four of those hits — including a double and two homers —and all four RBIs came in the four-game season finale against the Angels. The strong finish has Hamilton in a good place entering the postseason.
“I’m not trying to do too much,” he said. “Trying to have better, quality at-bats. You got a lot of guys in front of me doing a lot of damage.”
Manager Jeff Banister said the turf used in Toronto has a softer base, which is a little easier on players with lower-half injuries. Center fielder Delino DeShields is also dealing with left knee soreness after recently banging into the outfield wall.
“I believe players have the ability in these type of scenarios to step up,” Banister said. “Maybe their pain threshold is a little higher.”
4 Hits and RBIs plus a double and two homers for Josh Hamilton in the past four games
Hamilton has been used recently in the back end of the batting order, including hitting sixth in his past five starts. It’s a spot that has helped him ease back into a run-producing role after a season beset by injuries.
“I think it’s a matter of understanding my role and where I fit as far as this team, and not getting outside of that and wanting to be somewhere different in the lineup,” he said. “Accepting and understanding everything I’ve gone through this year; I am where I am for a reason.”
We wouldn’t be here without what Choo has done for us. .. There were some nights where we’d just sit there in awe and amazement of what he was doing and the run he’s been on. He’s been a man on a mission since the All-Star break and hasn’t looked up.
Jeff Banister on OF Shin-Soo Choo, who earned AL Player of the Month honors
Rookie reliever Keone Kela said he’s available to pitch on consecutive days in the postseason after the club had backed off using him in the past month to let his arm rest.
He’s thrown a career-high 60 1/3 innings this season, but only 16 2/3 since the start of August.
“I’m ready to go,” said Kela, who hasn’t allowed an earned run since returning from a 10-day break with Double A Frisco at the beginning of August. “I believe the reason [general manager] Jon Daniels and the organization gave me an opportunity to rest was for this situation right here.
“We’re here to win. I’m ready to go back-to-back.”
Rest for the ’pen
The bullpen, especially Sam Dyson and closer Shawn Tolleson, were in need of some rest as the regular season came to a close.
Both worked five consecutive days before Sunday’s finale. Dyson didn’t show much wear, striking out the side in the eighth Saturday. But Tolleson’s pitches were flat as the Angels hit consecutive homers.
“I think it will be really beneficial for me and Dyson and maybe some other guys who have had sore arms there at the end of the season and who have thrown a lot,” Tolleson said. “These days off are huge for everybody. Position players get their legs fresh.”
Tolleson, Dyson and the rest of the bullpen have combined to throw 502 innings this season (18th-most in the majors).
“Hopefully, these few days off will get us back to feeling fresh again,” he said.
Stefan Stevenson: 817-390-7760, @StevensonFWST