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Mariners-Rangers Preview 2009-05-11


Mariners-Rangers Preview 2009-05-11
Josh Hamilton's 2008 had to be a dream season for a player that overcame some well-documented drug and alcohol problems.

It's been a different story for the Texas Rangers slugger this year.

After missing the past 13 games with an injury, Hamilton is eligible to come off the disabled list and could return to the lineup Tuesday night in Arlington as the AL West-leading Rangers open a three-game set against the Seattle Mariners.

Hamilton hasn't played since April 26, five days after straining a muscle in his left rib cage when he crashed into the outfield wall in Toronto. He went 1 for 2 for Triple-A Oklahoma City on Sunday.

"I slipped in the outfield (during the sixth inning) and landed on my ribs and didn't feel a thing," Hamilton told the Rangers' official Web site. "I'll see how it feels tomorrow, but I'm planning on playing nine innings here on Monday and then (being) ready to go for the Rangers on Tuesday night."

Hamilton, though, is batting just .242 with two home runs and 10 RBIs. That's well off last season's pace when he hit .304 with 32 homers and an AL-leading 130 RBIs.

Hamilton's record 28 home runs during the first round of last season's Home Run Derby during All-Star weekend are a distant memory.

"This is a new year," he said last month while in a 1-for-16 slide. "Last year they were testing me in the first half, but in the second half, they started going out of the zone. If I'm going to chase it, they're going to keep throwing it out there."

Texas (17-14), winner of seven of nine, could also have third baseman Michael Young back in the lineup as it returns from a 5-2 trip. Young is batting .404 (19 for 47) in his last 11 games but missed the last two with back stiffness.

"I fully expect to come in Tuesday and be ready to roll," said Young, who was 5 for 9 in a two-game sweep at Seattle from May 4-5.

Scott Feldman (2-0, 5.79) looks for another solid outing following Wednesday's effort in Oakland, where he yielded two runs and four hits in six innings as the Rangers won 3-2 and took over first place in the West.

"I love starting," said Feldman, who improved to 2-0 with a 3.24 ERA in three starts. "It's been a lot of fun the last three games. I don't want to take anything for granted though. When they tell me to pitch I want to do well."

Feldman had a 12.15 ERA in three relief appearances before replacing the injured Kris Benson in the starting rotation.

Feldman has a 2.57 ERA with no decisions in 11 career appearances against the Mariners.

Seattle (16-16) counters with Jason Vargas, who takes the spot of the injured Carlos Silva (right shoulder inflammation). Vargas, who makes his first start since July 3, 2007, with the New York Mets, hasn't allowed a run in 3 2-3 innings of relief since being called up May 2 from Triple-A Tacoma.

"It's definitely a good feeling," Vargas said of getting to start. "But at the same time, I don't think I've ever been one to get too high or too low."

A quality start would be welcome for a Seattle club coming off a five-game road trip in which only one starter lasted five innings.

The Mariners, though, ended a six-game losing streak Sunday as Ken Griffey Jr.'s two-run homer in the eighth sparked a four-run rally in a 5-3 win over Minnesota.

Ichiro Suzuki is batting .409 (9 for 22) in his last five games but is 0 for 9 lifetime against Feldman.

Texas' Hank Blalock hit two homers Sunday after going a season-high six straight games without one. He has four home runs and 13 RBIs in 12 home games.


Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: May 11, 2009

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