Hamilton hopeful, but knee still barking

Inflammation cited; Rangers will play it safe with LF

Hamilton hopeful, but knee still barking

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Rangers left fielder Josh Hamilton, after arriving for Spring Training on Sunday, put in a full morning of work on Tuesday.

But he is still having some issues with his surgically repaired left knee. Hamilton had surgery right after the season, and there has been discomfort lingering in the knee for long stretches of the offseason.

• Rangers Spring Training info

The condition has been diagnosed as inflammation in the capsule behind the left knee, and Hamilton had a cortisone injection just before FanFest in January.

"It was good for about 2 1/2 weeks, but it has started to creep back a little bit, so we'll see how it responds to being active every day," Hamilton said. "I'm not really worried about it. I ran the bases today, so we'll see. I'm doing something every day."

Hamilton, who turns 35 on May 21, had surgery on Sept. 11 to clean up the meniscus in the knee. He was sidelined for one week before returning to the lineup, but aggravated the knee running into the wall making a catch in the final week of the season. He made it through the Division Series against the Blue Jays, and then had surgery after the season.

"The doctor said there was inflammation in the capsule," Hamilton said. "I'm wondering why 2 1/2 weeks later it started happening again. Is this going to be an ongoing thing? Is this not going to be an ongoing thing? I have those questions, too."

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Hamilton will get the benefit of a full Spring Training. He missed all of Spring Training last year with the Angels while recovering from offseason shoulder surgery and never really caught up, even after being traded to the Rangers on April 27.

"It's good to be here and have everybody together so they can kind of look at it, get a gameplan and see what's going on and go from there," Hamilton said.

"I'm not looking at showing up, doing a little something and leaving," Hamilton said. "It is going to be a full day whether it's all outside or inside. I don't know what their plan is, but today I went out there and stretched and threw, took fly balls and ground balls and hit and then I ran some bases. I did everything. Pick your spots when to do it and when not to do it."

The Rangers' plan going into Spring Training is to be careful with Hamilton and just take it day to day. They have left field alternatives in Justin Ruggiano, Ryan Rua, Joey Gallo and James Jones, and added another one this week when they signed Ike Davis to a Minor League contract. Davis gives the Rangers another left-handed bat, but has played just two innings in the outfield in his Major League career.

"I want to be careful too," Hamilton said. "I didn't have a spring last year. I want to use this spring to the best of my ability to get ready when it counts. Hate to say it, but I have had 15 surgeries in my career.

"I'm not a spry young chicken anymore. I'm doing it smarter. I'm listening to them, try to tell them how I feel and see what they got going on and don't push it."

Hamilton admitted that might be hard to do.

"It doesn't count here, but I've never had that mentality," Hamilton said. "It has always been just go, go, go. So it's going to be a challenge for me.

"I feel like I am in good shape. I tried to stay 240 pounds before I got here but did not succeed. I came in at 246. I have been able to do all my leg stuff this offseason, so I didn't fall behind as far as strength."

Hamilton said there is no alternative at this point other than managing the knee as best he can. Another cleanup surgery likely won't do any good.

"There is nothing to clean out," Hamilton said.

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.