Rangers' Hamilton hoping to play more

Rangers' Hamilton hoping to play more

DENVER -- Josh Hamilton was in the lineup for the fifth straight game on Tuesday. He also was hoping to talk his way into the lineup on Wednesday afternoon, although Rangers manager Jeff Banister may have other ideas.

The point is that Hamilton has come out after the All-Star break feeling much better than he did at the end of the first half. The result is Hamilton is hoping to play more and take fewer games off than he did before the All-Star break, when the Rangers were being careful because of the outfielder's tender groin and hamstring muscles.

"I really feel having days off hurts me more than it helps me," Hamilton said. "I am more stiff the next day. I feel like I really need to start loading it up. The All-Star break helped, it helped big time."

Hamilton is still not running at 100 percent. A case in point was a triple hit by DJ LeMahieu in the second inning on Monday night. The ball was a line drive into the right-center gap and skipped past Hamilton to the wall.

"If I'm 100 percent, I get that ball, but I don't have that explosive gear," Hamilton said.

But Hamilton does feel good enough to start getting extra work, and he was out Tuesday afternoon for early batting practice.

"I need to keep playing like I am and keep working on my swing," Hamilton said. "If I keep taking more swings, the better I feel. I am a feel guy when it comes to hitting. Like in early batting practice, the first two rounds, I didn't have any feel, but as I continued to swing, I started feeling better."

Hamilton went into Tuesday's game hitting .239 with three home runs and eight RBIs in 19 games. Since the All-Star break, he was 4-for-17 with two doubles and a home run.

Banister said he understands Hamilton's need to get more regular playing time.

"That's the nature of the game and ultra-important for everyday players," Banister said. "That's how you get in that rhythm. It's tough for a player to play a couple of days and then sit down, play a couple more days and then sit down again. It's hard to get any sort of rhythm and feel for the game."

The Rangers still have to be careful about Hamilton's legs. He missed almost all of June because of a strained left hamstring, and he has been dealing with a tight left groin muscle, although it hasn't really bothered him since the All-Star break.

T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.