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09/12/08 10:15 PM ET
Hamilton among starters Friday
Slugger shrugs off bruised right foot to continue producing
By T.R. Sullivan / MLB.com
OAKLAND -- A few weeks ago, there were concerns that Josh Hamilton was wearing down from a long season. Now he appears to be getting a second wind. Hamilton shrugged off a bruised right foot and was in the lineup for Friday's game against the Athletics, entering the game with 16 hits in his past 31 at-bats -- putting his batting average at .306 with 31 home runs and 124 RBIs. "It's just that I started out to prove a lot at the beginning of the season, and I found myself stressing out about putting up good numbers," Hamilton said. "Now, here at the end of the season, I'm not worrying about it anymore. I proved I could put up good numbers, now I can go out and have fun. If I get a hit, I get a hit; if not, I don't. "That's really the attitude you have to have the whole season, but it's impossible to have. You want to have good numbers, that's just human nature." Hamilton's numbers are good, though he has slipped into a tie for fifth in home runs in the American League and is seventh in the league in slugging percentage. He still led the AL in RBIs entering Friday, but insists he's not worried being No. 1 when the season is over. "If you had told me in February that I'd have 31 home runs, 124 RBIs, played in 141 games and be hitting over .300, I would have been OK with that," Hamilton said. "I'll get all that stuff one day in my career if I keep playing. I'll get the RBIs lead, the home run lead, the batting average. "Obviously, the key was to stay healthy. That's been the main reason why I've been able to put up numbers. And obviously teammates getting on base in front of me and giving me the opportunity to drive in runs, that's been big." The Rangers also believe having Milton Bradley hitting behind Hamilton has been huge for him. But Bradley can be a free agent after the season, and there's no guarantee that he'll be back next season. "We joke about it, Milton and I," Hamilton said. "How much the media says I'm better with Milton behind me. But I joke and say, 'The media needs to watch closer at the pitches I'm swinging at. They're still out of the strike zone.' "But I've enjoyed playing with Milton, and I'll continue to enjoy playing with him. It's a heck of a lineup. All the way down the lineup it's a good-hitting club. I hope they try keeping it together."
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.