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Hamilton moved up in Rangers' lineup

Hamilton moved up in Rangers' lineup

OAKLAND -- Josh Hamilton, free from the effects of some energy-zapping medication to treat Attention Deficit Disorder, was moved up to the fifth spot in the order for Thursday's game against the Oakland Athletics.

"I'm making progress," said Hamilton, who had been dropped to as low as seventh in the order because manager Ron Washington thought it would take some pressure off him.

Hamilton was 4-for-9 with two walks in the first three games of the four-game series vs. the Athletics, a possible sign that he might be emerging from a season-long, injury-plagued slump at the plate. Hamilton went into Thursday's game hitting .229 with seven home runs and 30 RBIs in 60 games, spanning 218 at-bats.

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"I feel good," Hamilton said. "All the medication is out of my system, I've got my energy back, I feel like myself again. I'm having good quality at-bats."

Hamilton, like many who suffered through substance abuse, has ADD. He was taking medication for it, but it has the side effect of loss of appetite and weight in some users.

"It happens to about 11 percent of those who use the medication," Hamilton said. "I'm always in the percentile of something."

He stopped taking the medication and said, "My appetite is back, I'm eating enough and I'm bouncing around. I finally feel like myself again."

He is also started to emerge from the mental funk that has been a part of his struggles at the plate, not to mention two trips to the disabled list for a strained ribcage muscle and a torn abdominal muscle that eventually required surgery.

"It was more frustrating than anything," Hamilton said. "When is it going to happen -- when am I going to come around? That's the great thing about the Lord. When you start to get down -- your faith is going to waver -- he's faithful in putting people in your life who strengthen you again.

"Right when I need it, my father-in-law helped straighten me out, my wife was encouraging me and I had friends calling me. I was also getting random text messages of Bible verses. Everything I needed to hear."

The Rangers need him to hit. They were hoping he would give the offense a boost when he returned just before the All-Star break, but that hasn't happened. The Rangers went into Thursday's game hitting .246 as a team since the All-Star break, the lowest average in the American League.

Hamilton said he is "passed the point" of putting pressure on himself trying to carry the Rangers' offense.

"I just realize that if I'm putting pressure on myself and if I don't succeed, I'm just beating myself up," Hamilton said. "I just try to simplify the game. I'm going to help my team win more often than not. I'm here for a reason. I can play with anybody. I can hit, run, throw people out."

He has also been able to take a more disciplined approach at the plate, something the entire Rangers offense is struggling to do.

"I'm more proud of seeing pitches better, not chasing pitches and seeing the ball in the zone," Hamilton said. "That's when you start feeling better and can trust yourself."

T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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