Hamilton shows Rangers knee can handle OF

Slugger feels 'surprisingly good' after playing field for first time since August

Hamilton shows Rangers knee can handle OF

HOUSTON -- Josh Hamilton was feeling good on Sunday, one day after playing a full game in left field. It gives the Rangers hope that Hamilton, recovering from surgery on his left knee, can play at least semi-regularly in the field down the stretch and into the postseason.

"I'm surprisingly good," Hamilton said. "I knew I would be swollen and I knew I would be stiff. The big tell-tale was this morning, and the swelling was down and the moving parts were better. It responded really well, a lot better than I thought, especially playing nine innings."

Saturday was the first time Hamilton played left field since Aug. 15, and he went 1-for-4 with a single and three strikeouts. The original plan was for Hamilton to play five to six innings and get three at-bats, but he felt good enough to play the full game.

"I felt like I had good at-bats," Hamilton said. "I felt comfortable at the plate. I didn't feel overwhelmed or out of place. Three strikeouts but I felt OK. If I wasn't seeing the ball or my timing was off, it would be a different story. But I didn't feel out of whack."

Mike Napoli started in left field on Sunday with left-hander Dallas Keuchel on the mound for the Astros. But manager Jeff Banister said Hamilton could be back out there on Monday with right-hander Justin Verlander pitching for the Tigers.

"I thought it went well," Banister said. "For him to complete the game and get the full complement of at-bats, and still feel good and no real issues, was good. The more at-bats he gets, the more locked in he'll be."

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.