NEW YORK -- Amid the excitement of starting a crucial six-game road trip against the class of the American League, the Rangers learned they will have to take on the Yankees and Red Sox without one of their best hitters.
Josh Hamilton was placed on the 15-day disabled list before Tuesday's game with an abdominal strain that could keep the star outfielder out of the lineup for two weeks or two months. Assistant general manager Thad Levine likened the injury to a sports hernia and said the team hopes Hamilton can avoid surgery, but did not rule out the possibility.
Hamilton was examined Tuesday afternoon in Dallas by Dr. John Preskitt, who prescribed a couple weeks of rest and anti-inflammatory medication. Levine said Hamilton will then be re-evaluated, but the club is hopeful he can return after his DL stint, which is retroactive to Monday.
If the injury requires surgery, Hamilton would miss at least eight weeks. Levine said surgery "represents the worst-case scenario." He added Hamilton's injury is not the same as the sports hernia that cost Ian Kinsler the final six weeks of last season.
Outfielder Brandon Boggs was recalled from Triple-A Oklahoma City to fill the open roster spot, and he is currently with the Rangers at Yankee Stadium. Hamilton will seek a second opinion in the coming days, but Levine said the team has not yet worked out the details.
"What the next week or two will show us will probably reveal a lot," Levine said. "There's a chance the disabled list stint will be exactly what he needs."
Hamilton's injury dates back to May 17, when he collided with the outfield fence while making a catch in a game against the Angels. He returned to the lineup three games later, but was ineffective. In 11 games since the injury, Hamilton has gone 9-for-38 (.237) with one home run and five RBIs. On the season, Hamilton is hitting .240 with six homers and 24 RBIs, after driving in 130 runs in 2008.
The injury is another setback in what has been a frustrating season for Hamilton. He spent two weeks on the DL in early May with a bruised left rib cage that he suffered crashing into an outfield wall in Toronto. Just as he appeared to be hitting his stride and reverting to his form from last year, Hamilton ran into another fence and hurt himself again.
Boggs, Hamilton's replacement, hit .226 with eight homers and 41 RBIs in 101 games with the Rangers last season. He was hitting .278 with two home runs and 25 RBIs in the Minors thus far this year.
So now with Hamilton out, Texas has two things to worry about: the health of one of its top offensive players and continuing its winning ways against two of the premiere teams in all of baseball.
And the Rangers realize that even though they currently have the best record in the AL, beating the Yankees and Red Sox on the road would truly prove their worth.
"Everything that happens in this game that is successful comes through New York and Boston," manager Ron Washington said. "We're looking forward to the challenge."
Jared Diamond is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.