Hamilton rests groin, not thinking about contract
Outfielder says sitting weekend is a precautionary move
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton was not in the Rangers lineup on Saturday because of a tight left groin muscle. He is not expected in the lineup on Sunday either as a precautionary measure.
He does expect to be in the Opening Day lineup on Friday, and he expects to be in the lineup as the Rangers center fielder. He also expects to be unsigned beyond this season and eligible for free agency when it's over.
That's where Hamilton stood on Saturday afternoon with the Rangers one day away from closing out their time in Arizona. Hamilton's position in the Rangers lineup has been resolved, but not his pending contract situation.
"I haven't thought about that," Hamilton said. "Why? Because I have a job. If I was a free agent right now and I didn't know where I would be, it would weigh on my mind."
Hamilton is open to the possibility of something getting done during the season but would prefer his agent Mike Moye take care of that quietly. So far that has been the case with all of Moye's dealings with the Rangers. Unlike other contract situations with other players around the league, all of the discussions between the Rangers and Moye have been kept private.
"If there is something worth talking about, he'll come and tell me," Hamilton said. "If not, he won't. I trust him completely. I know Mike is not out to take advantage of anybody. I'm just looking for something is fair."
Hamilton said the Rangers will get the first chance to sign him after the season. He also said that he does pray about his contract situation.
"I pray that God has me in the right place with the right people," Hamilton said. "I've been there in the right place the last four years and this year. We'll see what kind of answers I get."
Right now Hamilton just wants to get healthy again and the Rangers see no reason why his tight groin muscle will prevent him from being ready on Opening Day. He was examined by Dr. Keith Meister on Saturday and is listed as day to day.
Hamilton had to leave Friday night's game against the Rockies after seven innings when he felt the muscle tighten up on him.
"When I hit that double (in the fifth inning), I felt it grab," Hamilton said. "The next at-bat I hit the ball back to the pitcher and felt it grab a little more. Then I was chasing a pop fly in the seventh and felt it grab a little more.
. "Since it's Spring Training, I decided to leave the game. If this were the regular season, I wouldn't have left the game. I came in today, got some treatment and felt a knot in there. It was a muscle spasm, we rubbed it out and it feels better."
Hamilton has been playing center field this week in preparation for Opening Day but said this injury has nothing to do with that.
"That's why I told you it happened when I hit the double," Hamilton said.
Hamilton said he is not expecting to play on Sunday when the Rangers close out the Cactus League against the Padres at Surprise Stadium. The Rangers still have three exhibition games in Texas for Hamilton to get more at-bats leading up to Opening Day.
"It will be just day-to-day as far as getting at-bats leading up to Opening Day," Hamilton said.
Hamilton is currently hitting .236 (13-for-55) for the spring with five doubles, no home runs and six RBIs. But he is 8-for-25 with four doubles in his last seven games.
"I've felt good the last 10 days," Hamilton said. "I've felt good at the plate, I've had better at-bats and I've felt more aggressive at the plate. I'm seeing more pitches...my mechanics are good.
"Some of it has been pressing, not having hit a home run this spring. That's the only stat I know. My cage work has been really good but it seems like when I get on the field, my stuff gets rammed up. It's about taking what I do in the batting cage out to the field with me."
When he is on the field, it has been in center. He has spent the majority of his playing time in left field the past two years but the plan now is for him to be the regular center fielder. The Rangers started reducing his time in center field after he twice went on the disabled list in 2009 because of injuries sustained running into center field walls. The Rangers also feel playing left is less physically demanding but right now the plan is for Hamilton to play center.
"I'm excited about that," Hamilton said. "I really am. I'm always asked what do I prefer and it's center, although I'll do whatever they ask me to do. But I'm excited about it. I'm going to do my best to stay away from walls and stay on the field."
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.