Rangers hope batting fifth gets Hamilton going

ARLINGTON, Texas — Josh Hamilton returned to the Texas lineup Sunday night but in an unfamiliar spot.

Hamilton batted fifth for the first time this year and was the designated hitter.

“I think skip (Texas manager Ron Washington) thinks that five worked a couple of years ago,” said Hamilton. “I ended up having an MVP-type season (in 2010). We’ll go with that again.”

Hamilton spent part of his 2010 season batting fifth. Adrian Beltre batted third for the Rangers again Sunday with Nelson Cruz the cleanup hitter.

Hamilton is hitting .206 over his last 55 games and is batting just .119 over the last 16 games.

Washington hopes batting fifth can get him going.

“I moved him down in the order just to slow him down a little bit,” Washington said. “At least he’s not hitting in the third slot, feeling that tension or whatever. Just try to take a little bit off, that’s all.”

Hamilton joked that he approached Saturday as if were a “spa day.” It did give him a chance to get some treatment on some areas. Washington said he didn’t know Hamilton was having any physical issues but at this time of year, everyone’s a little banged up.

One thing Washington was in no mood for was hearing excuses for the team’s recent slump at the plate.

“The thing is, we’ve got to quit making excuses for ineptness or somebody’s inability to do something,” Washington said. “If you don’t do something, you don’t do it, and just say that. Let’s not make excuses.”

Hamilton didn’t make any excuses for the struggles. That includes his looming free agency.

“I haven’t thought about it and never do think about it unless you all (media) bring it up or somebody in the front office brings it up,” he said. “They always worry about me having distraction, so I don’t have any distractions. I’d be cheaper for them right now but I won’t be by the end of the season.”