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09/24/10 10:04 PM ET

Francisco encouraged by progress

OAKLAND -- Rangers reliever Frank Francisco, who has been sidelined with a strained muscle in his right ribcage, had an extended session of long toss before Friday's game and was encouraged by how he felt.

Long toss, which can be anywhere from 90 to 150 feet in length, is a good test of arm strength and usually the last test before throwing off the mound again. Francisco would like at least one or two more long-toss sessions before he gets back on the mound.

"I just have to build my arm up a little more and get it a little more strong," Francisco said.

It's still going be tight, as far as getting ready for the playoffs, but Francisco thinks he has enough time.

"I believe I am going to be there," Francisco said. "Maybe the playoffs, maybe the last few games of the season."

Hamilton forced to sit while Texas struggles

OAKLAND -- Being injured is frustrating for Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton.

Being injured at a time when his teammates are struggling offensively only makes it that much harder as he tries to recover from two small fractures in his right rib cage.

"Obviously, if I'm playing, I can help them with that," Hamilton said. "But when I can't do anything, and all I can do is encourage them. That's the most frustrating part. All I can do is get fixed and get right as fast as I can. My body will tell me when it's ready."

Hamilton continues to report some improvement in the rib cage area after getting two injections on Monday to help deal with the pain and discomfort. He has had some muscle spasms but otherwise continues to do a little more each day. On Thursday, he did some running in the outfield, beginning in a walk and getting up to about 75 percent speed.

"Every day I'm trying to do a little bit more," Hamilton said.

He still hasn't resumed baseball activities -- including swinging a bat -- but he is still hopeful of getting back in the lineup by the final weekend of the season.

"He's moving better, but until he starts taking batting practice and shagging fly balls, we're not any closer," Washington said.

Worth noting

Entering Friday, the Rangers had gone three consecutive games without scoring an earned run. That is the first time that's happened in club history. The last earned run was a home run by Chris Davis in the eighth inning on Monday. ... Dallas Braden came within one inning of being the fifth pitcher to throw back-to-back shutouts against the Rangers. The last to do it was Bert Blyleven in 1985. The others were Vida Blue (1972), Jim Hunter (1975) and Paul Hartzell (1976). ... The Rangers' bullpen ERA of 3.22 is the fifth-lowest in club history. The record is a 2.91 ERA by the 1981 unit.

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.