Rangers get two stars back in lineup

Rangers get two stars back in lineup

KANSAS CITY -- It's official. Josh Hamilton is feeling much better.

Before Tuesday's game, Hamilton talked about how he was looking forward to sampling some of the Mountain Dew and Three Musketeers candy bars offered in the visitors' clubhouse.

He couldn't indulge in those treats with a bad viral infection. Hamilton is one of the missing pieces that was back in the Rangers' lineup on Tuesday.

Hamilton played in center field, and Michael Young was back at shortstop in Tuesday night's game against the Royals. Both missed games over the weekend.

The viral infection kept Hamilton out of Texas' win against the Rays on Sunday. He said he's at 90 percent after getting the day off on Monday. With neck pains in addition to the infection, the free date couldn't have come at a better time.

"It's a new experience for me as far as playing so much," Hamilton said. "Obviously I would have played more in the past if I hadn't been hurt. I'm feeling pretty good so obviously I want to be out there as much as possible."

Manager Ron Washington plans to give Hamilton extra rest by switching him from center field to right field every few games. Washington would like to use him as a designated hitter more often, but Hamilton likes to play in the field. Same with Young.

Young plans to continue playing shortstop despite his recent bout with groin soreness. He didn't play on Friday or Sunday and received three sessions of treatment on Sunday. Young rested on Monday before receiving more treatment and going through a workout before Tuesday's game. He said he's still sore but expects the groin to feel better as the week goes on.

Washington trusts Young's judgment.

"Mike wouldn't go out there if he didn't think he could do it," Washington said. "He wouldn't put us in that position where he couldn't do it, and we'd have to take him out of the game early."

Young is also still bothered by a hairline fracture in his left ring finger. It won't prevent him from playing.

"Finger's going to be the same for a while," Young said. "Sore also on Saturday, and it didn't affect my play. I feel it in everything I do. Put my shoes on I feel it. I just accept that's how it feels."

The Rangers received other good news about injured players on Tuesday. Third baseman Hank Blalock, who had surgery on his wrist in late May, threw to bases for the first time before Tuesday's game. The Rangers plan to let him throw again Wednesday and swing on Friday. Blalock said he hopes to join the team for its series against Washington, which starts June 20.

Mark Dent is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.