ARLINGTON -- The Rangers welcome opponents pitching around and or intentionally walking the torrid Josh Hamilton, who entered Sunday's series finale against the Angels with nine home runs in the last six games. The Angels did the latter Friday night with first base open.
The problems are two-fold: Hamilton is difficult to pitch around because he is a free swinger, and he is well protected with third baseman Adrian Beltre batting behind him, followed by Michael Young and Nelson Cruz.
Manager Ron Washington said Sunday that Hamilton doesn't have the plate discipline of, say, a Barry Bonds, who walked 177 times in 2001 when he hit a Major League-record 73 home runs. National League pitchers gave Bonds even more respect in 2004 when he walked 232 times, 120 of them intentional.
"He's a swinger, man," Washington said. "If he can see it and he can reach, he'll go get it. If they decide not to pitch him, I'd like to see Beltre up there. Don't pitch to him, then pitch to Beltre. Don't pitch to Beltre, then pitch to Mike. If you don't pitch to Mike, pitch to Cruz. I don't care. Every one of those guys is capable of hurting you. Maybe they won't. Maybe they will.
"They know Barry can see a couple inches off the plate," Washington said. "They don't know if [Hamilton] can see a couple inches off the plate. I don't know if it'll get to that point. Barry Bonds had a ton of discipline. Hamilton is still trying to acquire discipline. There's the difference right there. If you try to walk Barry, Barry'll let you throw it out there."
Young said the Rangers are more than happy to have opponents put Hamilton on base.
"Whenever you give up a free base, it always works for the offense," Young said. "If they try to give up a free base, we'll take it all day long."