ARLINGTON -- Rangers infielder Mike Olt has started taking batting practice again after showing significant improvement with the plantar fasciitis in his right heel. Olt has not played since Sept. 12 and has been in just three games this month while dealing with the inflammation."It's getting a lot better," Olt said. "I'm going to start swinging today. It's all up to what I can take as far as pain. I'll see what happens." The Rangers have 10 games left in the season and then a couple of extra days after that to set their playoff roster. That gives Olt less than two weeks to get ready, but he is still under consideration for a spot on the roster. The last spot on the bench could come down to Olt, Leonys Martin and Brandon Snyder. "The last four or five days it's really turned the corner," Olt said. "Hopefully this week we'll turn another corner."
Hamilton homers in return from sinus issues
ARLINGTON -- Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton did not know exactly how to explain the problem that was going on with his eyes that kept him out of the lineup for five straight games."It's me we're talking about here," Hamilton said to a large throng of media prior to Monday's game. "Guys, it's me. It's Josh. It's going to be something weird." There was nothing weird about Hamilton's return to the lineup on Monday, however. Hamilton looked like his old self against the A's, reclaiming the American League home run lead with a solo home run in the fifth inning, his 43rd homer of the season to move ahead of the Tigers' Miguel Cabrera, who did not homer on Monday. The official diagnosis was ocular keratitis, a condition that impacts the cornea and the vision. The cause was Hamilton taking in too much caffeine, energy drinks and medications for other ailments. "All of those things compounded and made it worse," Hamilton said. But Hamilton believes the Rangers have identified the problem and fixed it. Hamilton worked out at Rangers Ballpark on Sunday without problem and is ready to finish the season. "My vision was great. ... It wasn't impacting my vision, it was impacting my ability to play," Hamilton said. "I came out yesterday and everything was fine. I hit, ran around in center field and everything went good. I'm back to normal." Hamilton has started 136 of the Rangers first 152 games going into Monday night. The Rangers are 9-7 when he is not in the lineup. "It's not about his production, it's about having him in the lineup," Rangers manager Ron Washington said.
Rangers bullpen at full strength again
ARLINGTON -- Rangers reliever Tanner Scheppers warmed up in the late innings and was ready to go into Sunday's game against the Mariners. He still hasn't pitched since sustaining a bruised right knee on Tuesday against the Angels, but Scheppers said he is ready if needed."It's sore and tight, but it's ready if needed," said Scheppers, who bruised the knee in a collision at home plate. Roy Oswalt still hasn't pitched in a game since his two-inning start against the Rays on Sept. 9. But, like Scheppers, he has warmed up in the bullpen and is no longer limited by his strained right forearm. "Everyone is available," manager Ron Washington said. Robbie Ross is showing he is back to full strength after being sidelined from Aug. 30 to Sept. 14 with tightness in his left forearm. He has retired all four batters he has faced over two appearances since being activated off the disabled list. "He's got more zip on his fastball and his movement is back," Washington said.
Rangers stolen bases down
ARLINGTON -- The Rangers went into Monday's game with just 24 stolen bases since the All-Star break. That was the third fewest in the American League. The Rangers had 65 stolen bases before the break, which was tied for the fourth most in the league.Ian Kinsler leads the Rangers with 21 stolen bases but has one in his last 37 games and none in his last 20. Elvis Andrus has 20 steals but has gone 19 games without one. Craig Gentry's stolen bases on Sunday was his first in more than a month. "These teams we're facing, they're doing a good job of shutting us down," manager Ron Washington said. "We just haven't had a chance to run. We're not running out of control. ... We've tried to force some things, but the other pitchers have done a good job of shutting us down. The pitchers are getting the ball to the plate quickly. They're shutting us down with their delivery." The Rangers will end up with their fewest stolen bases since swiping 81 in 2008. They had 149 in 2009, 123 in 2010 and 143 last season. The Rangers have been successful on 67.9 percent of their attempts, which would be their lowest success rate in six years under Washington.
Elvis Andrus dropped his 15th sacrifice hit on Sunday. It's the third straight season he has 15 sacrifice bunts. Only two other Rangers had multiple seasons of at last 15 sacrifice hits. Jim Sundberg and Bert Campaneris both did it twice. Ryan Dempster has seven wins since Aug. 1, the most in the American League. David Murphy went into Monday's game leading the American League with a .355 batting average in home games.
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.