Hamilton returns, but lower back stiffens up

Hamilton returns, but lower back stiffens up

MINNEAPOLIS -- Josh Hamilton continues to feel significant improvement in his aching right knee and was back at designated hitter on Friday.

Hamilton went 2-for-4 in a 4-3 loss to the Twins, but he had to leave the game in the eighth inning with stiffness in his lower back after a single to right. Hamilton said a joint in his lower back locked up on him.

"I never felt it until I came out of the box," Hamilton said. "I got to first and felt they better get somebody in there to run."

Hamilton said they were able to get the joint loose after he came out of the game. He said he expected to be able to play the outfield on Saturday. He has had this problem before but always on the right side. This was on his left side.

"I don't see it being a problem," Hamilton said. "I'll be good to go."

Hamilton was at designated hitter on Friday because manager Ron Washington wanted to get Vladimir Guerrero a night off. Coupled with the off-day on Thursday, that would give him two straight days off.

"I had already talked to Guerrero about this day off in Kansas City," Washington said.

Hamilton has been bothered by the knee on and off all season. He has had two cortisone shots earlier this year and had a lubricant injection on Monday in Kansas City. He said he is noticing a difference since then.

"I feel a lot better," Hamilton said. "I don't feel it aching like it was. That was the worst part. It felt like a toothache in my leg."

Hamilton was the Rangers' DH on Monday and Tuesday and was given the day off on Wednesday. He is still leading the Majors with a .362 batting average.