Hamilton, Gimenez close in on rehab outings

Hamilton, Gimenez close in on rehab outings

ARLINGTON -- Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton and catcher Chris Gimenez are headed back to Arizona for extended spring training, planning on being ready to start rehab assignments at some point next week.

Hamilton is taking batting practice, running the bases and taking fly balls in the outfield. He is hoping to start playing in extended spring training games on Friday, shuttling between designated hitter and the outfield.

If all goes well, Hamilton is hoping to begin a rehab assignment on April 30. The Rangers would like for him to get approximately 35 at-bats between extended spring and his rehab assignment before he is considered an option at the Major League level.

"Waiting has been tough, but it has been really good," Hamilton said. "I'm just waiting and following what they want me to do. They want me to have six weeks of [extended] spring training, that's what we're doing. I'm going to Arizona to DH and play the field, and hopefully by April 30, I'll be back in [Double-A] Frisco playing in games."

Hamilton had two operations on his left knee last year and was still dealing with inflammation at the start of Spring Training. The Rangers decided to have him begin the year on the disabled list to give him enough time for the inflammation to subside and prepare properly for the season.

Gimenez, who already had a full Spring Training, won't take as long. He began the season on the DL with a serious infection in his left ankle but is almost 100 percent healthy. He will go with Hamilton to Arizona but could begin his rehab assignment on Monday with Frisco.

"I have a little bandage to act as a barrier because there is still a little tiny wound," Gimenez said. "They are going to put a stitch in it, and in two days it will be healed. I feel like a normal person -- well, almost like a normal baseball player."

Banister likes DeShields' defense: Manager Jeff Banister said he is seeing the defensive improvement from center fielder Delino DeShields that the Rangers were seeing in Spring Training.

"The angles to the baseball are better," Banister said. "Delino gets off on the ball as good as anybody. The improvement for Delino comes from the direct angles and routes to the baseball. We've seen that. That's the No. 1 improvement."

Rangers beat:
• Catcher Michael McKenry, who was with the Rangers in Spring Training, has been activated off the DL at Triple-A Round Rock.

• Pitcher Anthony Ranaudo has been placed on the Round Rock DL with a strained groin. He will be re-evaluated in five to seven days, but the Rangers are hoping he'll miss just one start.

• The Rangers are expected to miss left-handers Chris Sale and John Danks in their three-game series with the White Sox this weekend. Right now they are expected to face left-handers Jose Quintana and Carlos Rodon, and right-hander Mat Latos.

• Interim third-base coach Spike Owen celebrated his 55th birthday on Tuesday.

• Entering Tuesday's series opener with the Astros, Nomar Mazara had 12 hits in his first seven Major League games. That's the most ever by a Rangers player over his first seven big league games.

T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. 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.