Hamilton returning; Young remains out

Hamilton returning; Young remains out

OAKLAND -- While the Rangers are hoping Josh Hamilton will be back in the lineup when they open a three-game series with the Tampa Bay Rays on Friday night, Michael Young is still going to be out a little longer.

Hamilton, who has not played since Sept. 2 because of a pinched nerve in his lower back, could be back either on Friday or Saturday. He took batting practice without problem while the club was in Oakland.

"He has been doing pretty good the past couple of days," manager Ron Washington said. "He hasn't had any setbacks, so we'll see how it goes. Maybe Friday or Saturday we might get him in there."

Young has a strained left hamstring and has played just once since Sept. 1. He started against the Athletics on Sept. 15 as the Rangers designated hitter and aggravated his hamstring in his first at-bat. He's not expected to play against the Rays but has been encouraged lately by his progress.

"The last couple of days I've had a lot of improvement," Young said Thursday. "I would say I'm approaching how I felt when I decided to play [last week], which was a bad call. The most frustrating thing is if I had left it alone, I would have been on the field by now."

Young said he doesn't think he'll play against the Rays, but he does want to play again this season, even though there are only 10 games left. He said he will try to get back on the field even if the Rangers are eliminated at some point.

"No doubt," Young said. "I'm not sure when. I'm positive it won't be over the weekend, but I definitely want to play. But I want to make sure I get it right and put it behind me. If I'm able to go out there and play without risk and I only have that last Sunday left, I'll play that Sunday. It's my responsibility to go out and play."

This is the Rangers' final home series of the season and there will be postgame fireworks on both Friday and Saturday. Sunday is Fan Appreciation Day.

Pitching matchup
TEX: LHP Derek Holland (7-12, 6.17 ERA)
Holland will be trying to snap a five-game losing streak, as the home run continues to badly hurt him. He gave up three more on Sunday and has now allowed 25 on the season, the most by a Rangers rookie in club history. His 1.77 home runs per nine innings is the fourth-highest rate by any Rangers pitcher with at least 100 innings pitched in a season. Holland is 5-7 with a 7.24 ERA at home this season. He made one start against the Rays this season and beat them, 12-4, on July 4 while allowing four runs in six innings.

TB: RHP James Shields (10-11, 4.09 ERA)
Shields is 3-1 despite a 5.63 ERA in his past five starts and is 4-5 with a 5.23 ERA in 12 starts since the All-Star break. He has pitched 204 innings, eighth-most in the American League and the third straight year he has pitched at least 200. He has allowed 27 home runs, tied for third-most in the league. He has given up 79 home runs over the past three seasons, tied for fifth-most by any Major League pitcher.

The Rays have won four of five but are still 7-15 for September. ... The Rangers swept a three-game series from them in July in Arlington. ... Elvis Andrus had two steals on Wednesday night to give him 31 for the season. He is the seventh AL rookie shortstop to steal at least 30 bases in a season. ... The Chevy Women that Soar Series Sports Business Roundtable will be held from 5-6:30 p.m. CT on Saturday in the Diamond Club. The session will be conducted with Hicks Sports Group/Texas Rangers CFO Kellie Fischer, General Motors R*Works vice president-regional managing director Beth Brockert and FOX Sports Southwest on-air personality Dana Larson.

 Buy tickets now to catch the game in person.

On the Internet
 Gameday Audio
•  Gameday
•  Official game notes

On television

On radio
• 105.3 The Fan, KFLC 1270 (Español)

Up next
• Saturday: Rangers (Kevin Millwood, 11-10, 3.79) vs. Rays (Matt Garza, 8-10, 3.70), 7:05 p.m. CT
• Sunday: Rangers (Brandon McCarthy, 7-4, 4.87) vs. Rays (David Price, 9-7, 4.41), 2:05 p.m. CT
• Monday: Rangers (Tommy Hunter, 9-4, 3.67) at Angels (Ervin Santana, 7-8, 5.46), 9:05 p.m. CT

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