Washington expects Hamilton to play field

Washington expects Hamilton to play field

ANAHEIM -- The Rangers are growing optimistic that Josh Hamilton, who has been sidelined with small fractures in his right rib cage, could be ready for the last few games of the regular season and postseason as well.

If so, manager Ron Washington still intends to get Hamilton back in the outfield, rather than limiting him to designated-hitter duty. That's still Vladimir Guerrero's role, and Washington wants it to be that way in the playoffs.

"I'll probably start [Hamilton] in left field," Washington said. "But I'm not sitting here and saying that I won't put him in center field. I'll put him in left field to start with, but he's a baseball player. He's going to play baseball."

Hamilton plays left when Julio Borbon is in center. But when Washington wants David Murphy in the lineup, he puts him in left and moves Hamilton center. With the way Murphy has been hitting lately, it may be difficult to keep him out of the lineup.

"I'm going to put my best lineup out there if we find ourselves in the playoffs," Washington said. "If that means Josh is in center field, he'll be in center field. If that's my best lineup.

"When I put him out there, I expect him to play. There is certainly not a blueprint on how I want him to play. He's a baseball player. He's smart. This is a competitive business. When you're out there, you play."