SEATTLE -- Josh Hamilton's return to the Rangers' lineup has given manager Ron Washington more options in the outfield -- enough, in fact, that he's been able to sit right fielder and club home run co-leader Nelson Cruz for three consecutive games.
Texas' offense has been that good.
Washington said Cruz will get shuffled back in eventually, but it's tough to make a case for changing anything currently. He could slot into the designated hitter spot, but DH Andruw Jones hit three home runs in an 8-1 win over Anaheim on Wednesday and another a game prior, so there's really no justification for sitting him at this point. Hamilton is one of baseball's premier sluggers, and the Rangers are 23-11 with him in the lineup this season. And Marlon Byrd (.287) and Dave Murphy (.280) have both been solid in the outfield all season.
So Cruz, who is tied with Ian Kinsler for the team lead with 20 homers, has been the odd man out since Hamilton returned from the disabled list on Monday.
"It's not that the issue's that I'm sitting Nelson Cruz," Washington said. "It's just those guys that are out there did such a great job, how can you pull them off the field?"
The Rangers' outfield and designated-hitter positions combined to go 6-for-18 in Wednesday's game, prompting Washington to go with the same four guys again on Thursday against Seattle.
But he said Cruz will definitely get his chance.
"Cruz will get back in there," Washington said. "He's third on the team in games played. It's not like he hasn't been playing. It's just that I just can't make that change after what those guys did last night."
Christian Caple is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.