Hamilton ready to return to Rangers

Hamilton ready to return to Rangers

CHICAGO -- Josh Hamilton is returning to a team that is clicking. His last Major League at-bat came on April 26, a night when the Rangers fell two games below the .500 mark. His team has missed him, but only to a certain point.

Hamilton played six innings in center field on Sunday for Triple-A Oklahoma City in Round Rock, Texas. He went 1-for-2 with a walk and a run scored as part of his two-game rehab assignment. After nursing a strained muscle in his left ribcage, the All-Star outfielder is eligible to come off the disabled list for the beginning of a three-game series against the Mariners.

"It felt good today," Hamilton said on Sunday. "I slipped in the outfield [during the sixth inning] and landed on my ribs and didn't feel a thing. I'll see how it feels tomorrow, but I'm planning on playing nine innings here on Monday and then [being] ready to go for the Rangers on Tuesday night."

Hamilton is expected to slide into the No. 3 spot, behind Michael Young, assuming the third baseman's back improves.

"It's great. I don't care where I hit. I just love hitting in a lineup where it's filled with good hitters," Young said. "It makes everybody better. We all feed off each other. There's guys on base when you hit. You're doing everything you can to get on base for the guys behind you. [It] gets the line moving."

The Rangers have won nine of their last 13 games, weathering Hamilton's absence with some strong starting pitching. But they still can use him.

"A player of his caliber, [arguably] one of the best players in the American League," outfielder David Murphy said, "[he'll] step in [and] help us defensively. He's gonna drive in runs. He's gonna do exactly what he did last year [and] help us to win games every single night."

Pitching matchup
TEX: RHP Scott Feldman (2-0, 5.79 ERA)
Feldman is 2-0 with a 3.24 ERA in three starts, and opponents are hitting .186 off him as a starter. They hit .355 off him as a reliever. He beat the Athletics, 4-2, on Wednesday night by holding them to two runs in six innings. He is 8-8 with a 4.98 ERA in 28 career starts, going back to last season. Of those, 14 have been quality starts, and he is 6-2 with a 2.82 ERA in those games. He has a career 2.57 ERA against the Mariners.

SEA: LHP Jason Vargas (1-0, 0.00 ERA)
A start that originally was supposed to go to right-hander Carlos Silva instead goes to Vargas, who will make his first Major League start since 2007, when he was with the Mets. Silva is on the 15-day disabled list with inflammation in his right shoulder. Vargas has worked 3 2/3 scoreless innings of relief since being promoted from Triple-A Tacoma on May 2. He brought with him from Tacoma an 11 2/3-innings scoreless streak.

On Sunday, Vicente Padilla became the first pitcher in Rangers history to allow one hit in back-to-back starts, regardless of the length of those starts. Going back to 1954, Padilla is just the eighth pitcher to allow one or zero hits in consecutive starts while throwing at least seven innings in each outing. The last to do it was Freddy Garcia of the White Sox in September 2006.

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On the Internet
 Gameday Audio
•  Gameday
•  Official game notes

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On radio
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Up next
• Wednesday: Rangers (Brandon McCarthy, 3-1, 6.10) vs. Mariners (Jarrod Washburn, 3-2, 2.68), 7:05 p.m. CT
• Thursday: Rangers (Matt Harrison, 3-2, 4.79) vs. Mariners (Felix Hernandez, 4-2, 4.09), 1:05 p.m. CT
• Friday: Rangers (Kevin Millwood, 3-3, 2.92) vs. Angels (TBD), 7:05 p.m. CT

Patrick Mooney is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.