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05/21/09 12:56 PM ET

Hamilton expected to return on Friday

Center fielder remains day-to-day due to sore right groin

DETROIT -- Center fielder Josh Hamilton missed Thursday's series finale at Comerica Park -- his third straight absence due to a sore right groin. He remains day-to-day.

Texas reiterated Thursday morning that Hamilton's injury will not require a disabled-list stint.

Assuming no setbacks occur overnight, manager Ron Washington expects the All-Star slugger to return to the lineup for Friday's series opener at Houston.

"If I can have improvement tomorrow like I did today, I should be good for the next couple days," Hamilton said. "I want to feel 100 percent. I'd rather sit out another game and go Saturday than feel 95 percent, rush back and have another setback."

He jogged Thursday morning at an estimated 70 percent intensity and reported no discomfort.

Hamilton, who led the American League in RBIs last season, took batting practice, launching several shots into the deepest parts of Comerica, and will be available to pinch-hit. He pinch-hit in the ninth inning of Wednesday's 5-3 loss to the Tigers, flying out to right field against closer Fernando Rodney.

The Rangers have gone 0-2 and scored three runs in two games against Detroit without Hamilton.

Washington acknowledged they need him back.

"If he's ready, I'll put him back out there [Friday]," the skipper said. "We need him back in that lineup. ... [His presence is] huge. He's a quality ballplayer that can do everything. He can play defense. He can run. He can hit. He can do everything. You don't ever want that kind of player out of your lineup.

"We don't want to make this a habit. We need Josh Hamilton in there producing."

Hamilton exited Sunday's game against the Angles after crashing into the right-center-field wall to make a leaping catch.

He returned from the 15-day DL last Tuesday after suffering a strained rib cage muscle when he ran into the outfield wall in Toronto.

Hamilton is batting .239 this season with five home runs and 19 RBIs. Since returning from the DL, he has hit .227 (5-for-22) with three home runs and nine RBIs in seven games.

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