09/25/10 4:09 PM ET
Vlad continues to pile up numbers
By T.R. Sullivan / MLB.com
Ellsbury knows what Hamilton is going through
OAKLAND -- Josh Hamilton received a call from Red Sox outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury on Saturday morning.They had a long discussion about fractured ribs and tight back muscles subject to spasms. Ellsbury has missed almost the entire season with five fractured ribs on his left side and understands what Hamilton's going through. Hamilton has two small fractures in his right rib cage, but is also dealing with spasms in a back muscle that's related to the injury. "He told me exactly what I'm feeling," Hamilton said. "He said he made the mistake of focusing only on the ribs and not doing anything to loosen up the back. The muscle is what I've been feeling from the beginning. That's where most of my pain has come from. That's something that I feel if I can get under control, I can get back quickly." Right now, Hamilton continues to focus on running and core exercises. Next will come twisting exercises and then baseball activities, with the goal still being to play in the last weekend of the regular season. Hamilton has been sidelined since Sept. 4, when he injured the rib cage running into the center-field wall in a game against the Twins at Target Field. While he has been out, he has been sitting on a .361 batting average that as of Saturday morning is 30 points better than the next hitter. Joe Mauer is second with a .331 average. Right now, Hamilton is in position to become the third Rangers player to win a batting title, following Julio Franco in 1991 and Michael Young in 2005. The .361 average would also be a new club record. Franco's .341 average in 1991 is currently the highest by a Rangers player in one season.
Cantu gets another start at first base
OAKLAND -- Manager Ron Washington, before Friday's game, wasn't sure if Jorge Cantu would start at first base on Saturday. But after Friday's 10-3 victory over the A's, Washington was ready to get Cantu back out there.Cantu was 1-for-3 with a double, and also made two excellent defensive plays in the third inning when the Rangers were only up, 1-0. "He saved us defensively," Washington said. "It's not always offense. He has been doing a great job at first base since we got him." Jeremy Hermida led off the third inning with a single, and Cliff Pennington followed with a hard grounder right at Cantu. He made the grab, stepped on first and then got Hermida in a rundown to complete the double play. Mark Ellis then hit a sharp grounder down the first-base line, and Cantu made a terrific diving stop to get the third out of the inning. "I take a lot of pride in my defense," Cantu said. "Defense wins a lot of games, too." So Cantu, a right-handed hitter, was back in the lineup for a third straight day with a left-hander, Gio Gonzalez, on the mound for the Athletics. He is trying to reinforce the Rangers' confidence in including him on the postseason roster as their right-handed-hitting first baseman. He is currently hitting .203 (15-for-74) with no home runs or RBIs in 24 games with the Rangers since he was acquired from the Marlins at the Trade Deadline, but still may be their best option against left-handed pitching. "I'm just trying to get on a roll," Cantu said. "All I can do is get ready for the playoffs. I've made a lot of progress, and I'm just trying to carry it into the game."
Reliever Frank Francisco, on the disabled list with a strained muscle in his right rib cage, had a light day of throwing on Saturday. He played a short game of catch, but did not have any setbacks. He will have a much more extended throwing session on Sunday. ... Matt Treanor started at catcher on Saturday, with Bengie Molina getting the day off with a day game after a night game. ... Tommy Hunter is now 13-4 on the season, a .765 winning percentage that is tied with Danny Darwin (13-4 in 1980) for the highest in club history for pitchers with at least 15 decisions. ... Alexi Ogando had not allowed a run in 11 straight appearances until allowing one in the eighth inning on Friday.
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.