09/28/10 12:47 AM ET
Rangers raise AL West championship flag
By Todd Wills / Special to MLB.com
The new division championship flag, the fourth one to hang in Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, but the first since 1999, is next to the Rangers Hall of Fame flags.
The Rangers clinched the AL West in Oakland on Saturday and will open the playoffs next Wednesday at Tampa Bay or New York.
"The fans can see that those guys were champions," manager Ron Washington said. "They were champions before they became champions."
Rangers still wait-and-see on Hamilton
ARLINGTON -- There is still a wait-and-see attitude surrounding when or if Rangers All-Star outfielder Josh Hamilton will play during this final seven-game homestand that started with Monday's 7-5 loss to Seattle.
He wasn't in the lineup Monday, and he hasn't even resumed batting practice yet. Hamilton did take 25 swings with a fungo bat off a tee. He reported some soreness in his rib-cage area. He also shagged fly balls and ran in the outfield and reported no discomfort.
"He felt a little bit, but it wasn't anything he couldn't deal with," Rangers manager Ron Washington said of Hamilton taking some swings. "He's making progress, but to put a time limit on it, I don't really know."
Hamilton said Sunday in Oakland that he hopes to be able to play by Friday. He has been sidelined since Sept. 4 with two small fractures in his right rib cage. Spasms in a muscle near the injury had also been a problem.
There was more optimism after Monday's game, but Washington still said he will reserve judgment.
"When he jumps in there and starts taking batting practice and everything goes well," Washington said, "we'll know we have him back."
Davis in the lineup at first base
ARLINGTON -- The Rangers used their regular lineup minus the injured Josh Hamilton for Monday's opener to the final homestand of the regular season, a 7-5 loss to the Mariners. That included Chris Davis at first base, who went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts before being pinch-hit for by Jorge Cantu in the seventh inning.
It's not a signal that Davis will be on the playoff roster. Manager Ron Washington said club officials will meet on that topic in the next few days. Washington did say on Sunday he wanted to see Davis play this week, and the manager followed up by putting him in Monday's starting lineup.
The Rangers have two left-handed-hitting options at first base with Davis and rookie Mitch Moreland, who had been slumping before notching three hits, including two home runs, in Sunday's win in Oakland.
Davis, the club's Opening Day first baseman who eventually lost his job to Moreland, said before the game he has no idea what the plan is for the postseason, but he does want to be a part of it.
"It's definitely something I'm shooting for, but at the same time, I don't know how much of a reality it is," Davis said. "Mitch came up here and took over the first-base job after he was called up, and he was sent down. I know he's a guy that they like and have a lot of confidence in.
"I don't know what the plan is. I would think they're not going to mess with what was working. We'll see how this next week plays out and see what happens."
Davis gives the Rangers a superior defensive option at first base over Moreland, with Cantu locked in as the right-handed-hitting first baseman.
Davis, in his third stint this season, said he won't press during this final week.
"I don't think there's any pressure," Davis said. "The next week is basically for us to take a deep breath and let the starters get some rest. Try to gear up and getting ready for the playoffs."
Francisco pushing to get into playoff 'pen
ARLINGTON -- Setup man Frankie Francisco put on an optimistic front Monday about being able to pitch in the Rangers' first-round playoff series. Manager Ron Washington wasn't so sure, even though Francisco is slated to pitch from a mound Tuesday for the first time since Aug. 28.
"Frankie's got to get on the mound," Washington said. "He's got to compete. He has to be able to let it go. He's got to be able to do a lot."
"Miracles happen," Washington said, "but I just don't see it the first time around."
Francisco, who has been out with a muscle strain in his side, said he felt "great" Monday after throwing from flat ground on Saturday and Sunday. He was taking Monday off then throwing a bullpen Tuesday. Francisco said he might go one, two or even three bullpen sessions. He also knows he needs to prove what he can do against live hitters, hopefully in a game this week.
"I need it," Francisco said. "I don't think they're going to throw me out there when they haven't seen me in a month."
Francisco said he will be pushed by pitching in the postseason for the first time in his career.
"This is my dream," Francisco said. "Can you imagine? This is everything I've been working for. I definitely want to be part of that. I don't want to miss it."
Reliever Mark Lowe (lower back surgery) threw 23 pitches in an instructional league game Monday. Lowe could get a chance to pitch for the Rangers in this final homestand later in the week. ... Reliever Clay Rapada has given up four runs in his last two appearances. But manager Ron Washington said that isn't a concern since a lot of the damage was done by right-handed hitters, and Rapada will be a left-handed specialist if he pitches in the playoffs.
Todd Wills is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.