In 2010, Nelson Cruz made three separate trips to the disabled list with hamstring problems. Ian Kinsler was on the DL twice, the longest at the start of the season with a high ankle sprain. Josh Hamilton missed almost the entire month of September with bruised ribs sustained from falling into the center field wall in Minnesota.
The Rangers have been bound and determined not to have this happen again to three of the team’s biggest offensive components. To that end, Cruz didn’t play winter ball for the first time in his career and learned new running techniques to take the strain off his hammy. While Kinsler wasn’t asked to do anything specific in the off-season, the Rangers decided he would rest on a regular basis, sometimes being the DH and sometimes just being on the bench, letting Michael Young play some second and hopefully lessening the risk of injury.
For Hamilton, it was clear: let Julio Borbon play as much center field as possible so Hambone could stay in left, where presumably he has less ground to cover and would be less likely to plow into walls at full speed. Also on the agenda, be a DH every so often when Young plays the field.
So isn’t it ironic that Hamilton would get hurt, not in the field, but serving as the team’s DH? It happened in the Rangers’ loss to Detroit. Hamilton’s 1st inning RBI triple plated Young with the first run on the game. When Adrian Beltre fouled out to third, Hamilton astutely noticed the catcher away from the plate and pitcher Brad Penny not covering, so he decided to make a break for it. Catcher Victor Martinez just barely got there in time, putting the tag on Hamilton’s shoulder before he could score the second run. The result? Hamilton walked away with a strained shoulder and had to be replaced in the DH spot by Kinsler.
Beyond that, all that could be said about this game was the Rangers were lucky it was so close. For the third straight start, CJ Wilson struggled. When the Rangers would take the lead, CJ would cough it right back. There were times it just looked like the whole team was a little out of sync, with the exception of Young, who was 3 for 3 and accounted for three of the four Texas runs with two runs scored and an RBI. Young has scored or driven in 5 of the 6 Texas runs this series.
Julio Borbon had a terrible offensive game and, after a promising start, has now slumped to .167 on the young season. The speedster managed to get picked off first to end the 7th and grounded into a double play to end the Rangers 9th.
Darren O’Day pitched the 9th for Texas and was shaky for the second consecutive outing, giving up a walk, a single and a walk to load the bases before Miguel Cabrera hit a walk-off single to left to hand Texas only its second loss of the year.
At this writing, Hamilton’s status is unknown. Hopefully it’s just a minor thing. It just goes to show, sometimes playing it safe can be anything but safe.