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08/17/09 7:59 PM ET
Texas shuffles batting order vs. Liriano
Hot-hitting Hamilton in third spot for first time since July
By Daniel Paulling / MLB.com
ARLINGTON -- Rangers manager Ron Washington filled out multiple lineup cards before Monday's game against the Twins, and he kept putting one name in the third slot -- Josh Hamilton. Monday is the first time Hamilton has hit third since July 25. Washington said his reasoning had to do with Twins left-hander Francisco Liriano, who is starting. "I was trying to break the lefties up," Washington said. "I feel comfortable doing it today. I might not do it tomorrow." Hamilton, David Murphy and Hank Blalock, all left-handed hitters, have been hitting consecutively in the Rangers' lineup. Second baseman Ian Kinsler also returned to the top of the lineup, as expected. Washington didn't want to start outfielder Julio Borbon against Liriano, which vacated the leadoff spot for Kinsler. Kinsler had been hitting sixth after returning Saturday from a strained left hamstring. Hamilton's move up the lineup was helped by his recent offensive production. He is hitting .542 (13-for-24) over his past six games and .400 in the month of August, fourth highest in the American League. Hamilton has eight multihit games in August and just 10 over the first four months of the season. "We're not asking him to carry us," Washington said. "He's been a huge lift because we've been waiting. He's been getting us two-out base hits." Hamilton was nonchalant about the move up in the lineup, but in the past he has voiced that he liked hitting in the first inning of games. "I've been batting in the first inning anyway [while hitting lower]," Hamilton said. "Unless you're a fast person and you can bunt, it doesn't matter [where you hit]. What's different about it?" Hamilton, one season after hitting 32 home runs, is stuck on eight this year. Washington isn't worried about the power outage as long as Hamilton drives in runs. Hamilton isn't worried, either. "Home runs don't matter," he said. "They come when they come. That's just a part of baseball. Last year, I'd go through stretches where I didn't hit home runs for 19 games." Hamilton's biggest stretch between home runs last season was 25 days, from Sept. 1-Sept. 26. Before Hamilton's torrid stretch, he was still hitting the ball hard and using the whole field, a sign a player's fortunes might be about to turn around. "My approach hasn't changed in the last two months," Hamilton said. "When you're in a slump, you can't do anything. Then you start hitting them hard at people, and then you start hitting bloopers over people and then you get back to where you need to be."
Daniel Paulling is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.