SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Josh Hamilton started in left field on Thursday afternoon against the Cubs. It was his eighth start in left as opposed to four in center and one at designated hitter.
There is still a possibility that he could get more playing time in center field during the season, but the Rangers haven't made that decision yet. Hamilton, like everybody else, is waiting for the Rangers to make a decision on the position. But manager Ron Washington said they haven't come to that point yet.
"I just want to be prepared," Hamilton said. "I want the opportunity to play center so I can get my legs under me out there. If I do start the season in center, I don't want to spent the first one and a half to two weeks getting my legs under me."
Hamilton was in left for the first game of the split-squad doubleheader. Craig Gentry started in center and Julio Borbon was in center for the night game against the Reds. Those two are competing for the center-field job, and Borbon has had the best spring. But the Rangers are still looking hard at Gentry and the possibility exists that both could make the team.
If Hamilton plays center, that allows the Rangers to get David Murphy into the lineup, and he went into Thursday's games hitting .387 for the spring with a .412 on-base percentage and a .548 slugging percentage.
"All I know is David Murphy is going to be on the team and David Murphy is going to play," Washington said.
Murphy has been hotter than Hamilton, who went 1-for-4 against Cubs pitcher Matt Garza on Thursday and is 6-for-34 (.176) on the spring. His only extra-base hit has been a double.
"I still feel good," Hamilton said. "Today is the best that I have felt as far as my power being back to where it needs to be," Hamilton said. "I'm just trying to eliminate the bigger movements in my swing and keep it simple. The last 10 days are the most important in trying to figure it out and get the timing where it needs to be."