Hamilton still can't escape the injury bug

Texas Rangers' outfielder Josh Hamilton waits to hit during workouts in preparation for Major...

Texas Rangers' outfielder Josh Hamilton waits to hit during workouts in preparation for Major League Baseball's World Series in San Francisco, October 26, 2010. (REUTERS/Robert Galbraith)

CHRIS RUDDICK, Sports Network

, Last Updated: 5:19 PM ET

PHILADELPHIA -- Now you know why the Texas Rangers have been hemming and hawing the last few years about signing Josh Hamilton to a long-term extension.

While that would be a no-brainer in most cases, Texas has relented not because of Hamilton's drug problems in the past -- although that probably does play a part in the decision -- but because he has played over 135 games just once in his career.

There's no doubting that when he stays healthy, Hamilton is an MVP-caliber player and proved as much when he won the award in 2010, though fractured ribs limited him most of the final month of the season and almost cost him the honor. Luckily for his sake, the Rangers were so far ahead in the standings at the time of that injury that Hamilton was barely missed.

But look back to 2009, when Hamilton played in only 89 games. The Rangers finished 10 games back of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim that season. Of course, Texas had a lot of deficiencies in the pitching department that year, but who knows what would have happened had Hamilton appeared in another 60 games that season.

The fact of the matter is Hamilton just can't be relied on to stay on the field, and because of that probably will never get the $100 million payday that would certainly be warranted for a player of his stature.

Texas proved that this offseason. Even though he was coming off an MVP campaign, the Rangers chose to only lock Hamilton up to a two-year deal at $12 million per season. The contract he signed this winter covers his last two arbitration-eligible seasons, meaning the Rangers have another big decision to make after 2012.

Hamilton, though, continues to make the decision an easy one for the Rangers, as the injury bug has once again gotten the best of the slugger, albeit in bizarre fashion this time. He suffered a small fracture of the humerus bone below his right shoulder on Tuesday and will miss at least the next six-to- eight weeks.

With Hamilton on third base following his RBI triple, Adrian Beltre popped out in front of the Detroit Tigers' dugout in foul territory. As catcher Victor Martinez and third baseman Brandon Inge went for the ball, Hamilton sprinted for the vacated plate to attempt to score on the play.

Inge made the grab and threw to Martinez, who hustled back to put the tag on Hamilton as he slid head-first.

"Definitely shouldn't have done it there," Hamilton said about his attempt to score. "That was a little too aggressive."

The most disturbing part about the whole incident was the way Hamilton threw his third base coach Dave Anderson under the bus after the game.

"A stupid play," Hamilton said. "I was thinking, 'I don't want to do this ... something is going to happen.' I listened to my coach. I definitely shouldn't have gone. It would have been different if they had been closer to where I was. But they had a good angle and cut me off...little too aggressive."

Give me a break, Josh. The ultimate decision was yours. If he had been safe, people would have been saying it was a great heads-up play. And had that happened, I have a hard time believing Hamilton would have credited Anderson.

That's just me, though.

Now Texas, which is off to the second-best start in team history, will have to get by without their best player probably until after the All-Star break.

"You don't want anyone to get hurt, but Josh is a big part of our club," general manager Jon Daniels said. "But we've got a guy like David Murphy who could start in almost every other scenario and has done a great job for us. We saw what David did for us last year when Josh got hurt in September. He has been a big part of our club the last few years."

The Rangers are off to an amazing start offensively, and in the understatement of the year, not having Hamilton will hurt. But like Daniels said, Murphy filled in admirably last year and has been one of the best bench players in the American League the past few seasons.

In other words, Texas should be able to weather this storm.

Interestingly enough, though, on the day the Rangers placed Hamilton on the disabled list for the third time in three seasons, reports are circulating that the team has signed Cuban center fielder Leonys Martin to a deal with a $15 million signing bonus.

Perhaps the Rangers have already made their decision, though that is not likely. Daniels will explore every option and give Hamilton every chance to prove that he can stay healthy. He is just too good of an offensive player to let get away. And they know that.

More likely, the Martin signing could begin the transition of making Hamilton a full-time designated hitter. Let's not forget that a lot of his injuries in the past have come because of his aggressiveness in the field. As good as he may be defensively, he is so much better at the plate.

There is still a lot of baseball to be played before October. But either way, Texas has to find a way to keep Hamilton on the field.


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