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05/08/09 11:30 PM ET

Hamilton ready to end DL stint

Rangers outfielder takes BP, expected to return Tuesday

CHICAGO -- Josh Hamilton found it to be an unbelievable question. When the outfielder returns to the lineup as expected on Tuesday night, can he play nine innings and give the Rangers four at-bats?

"Yeah, rock and roll," Hamilton said.

That's the plan after a productive Friday at U.S. Cellular Field. Hamilton, nursing a strained muscle in his left rib cage, took batting practice and put in some outfield work.

Hamilton is scheduled to leave Chicago on Saturday night and fly to Texas, where he will play for Triple-A Oklahoma City on Sunday and Monday at Round Rock.

"[Hamilton] had a good day today," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "He swung the bat well, ran the bases, didn't have any residuals, so he's pretty excited."

Hamilton took about 35 swings during three pain-free rounds of batting practice. The outfielder sustained the injury while running into the wall at the Rogers Centre on April 21. He struck out in one pinch-hit at-bat against Baltimore on April 26 and hasn't played since.

Hamilton's eligible to come off the disabled list on Tuesday for the beginning of a three-game series against Seattle. He doesn't anticipate any problems, and he might be returning to a first-place team.

"I said when we lost Josh -- somebody has to step up," Washington said. [We're] a team, and we play as a team. We mainly concern ourselves with what we have here, not with what we don't have. Of course we miss Josh, and we'll be very happy when to get Josh back, but we're a team. [We] got to pick up slack and that's what they've been doing."

Patrick Mooney is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.