Rangers’ Hamilton rests for 1st time since HR tear

The Texas Rangers were set for a rare weekday afternoon sellout,

fueled by thousands of schoolchildren getting a break from their

routine.

Manager Ron Washington figures the kids would like to see Josh

Hamilton in October, too, so he sat Hamilton and stuck with his

plan to rest his key starters.

Hamilton was out of Thursday’s starting lineup against Oakland,

his first absence since a hot streak that vaulted him to the major

league lead in all three Triple Crown categories. He was the last

of five Rangers players to sit during a four-game stretch that

ended against the A’s.

”It was as simple as it was to give the rest of them a day

off,” Washington said. ”Those are the guys that’s going to take

us where we have to go.”

The crowd of 47,182 did get a chance to see Hamilton when he

appeared as a pinch-hitter in the eighth inning. He grounded out,

then replaced Craig Gentry in center field in the ninth. He ended

up making the first out in the eighth and 10th innings, ending his

AL-best 16-game hitting streak.

The former AL MVP has cooled off some since hitting .467 (14 of

30) with two doubles, nine homers and 18 RBIs over seven games. The

run was sparked by the 16th four-homer game in major league history

May 8 at Baltimore.

Homerless in his past five games, Hamilton is still leading the

AL in average (.399), homers (18) and RBIs (45).

During a pair of two-game series against Kansas City and

Oakland, Rangers manager Ron Washington has already rested Ian

Kinsler, Michael Young, Mike Napoli and Nelson Cruz. The Rangers

were swept by the Royals but had a chance to sweep the A’s on

Thursday.

Texas is in the middle of a stretch of 20 games in 20 days. The

Rangers got a break with a rainout in Baltimore last week, but had

to play a doubleheader the next day. Their next scheduled off day

is May 24.

”I’m not used to days off,” said Young, who sat Wednesday and

was the DH in Hamilton’s traditional third spot in the order

Thursday. ”I like to get out there every day. But rest if always a

good thing.”

Hamilton, who didn’t appear in the clubhouse when it was open to

reporters before Thursday’s game, left early April 29 against Tampa

Bay because of back spasms. He missed the next three games at

Toronto, but his absence appeared precautionary because the Rangers

were playing a rare series on artificial turf.

The four-time All-Star played only 89 games in 2009 because of

an abdominal tear and a pinched nerve in his back. He missed a

month of his MVP season in 2010 with broken ribs after crashing

into an outfield wall making a catch. He was out six weeks last

year after he broke a bone in his arm diving headfirst trying to

score on a foul popout, and had surgery for a sports hernia after

the World Series.

Hamilton led the AL with 130 RBIs in 2008, his first season with

the Rangers. He led the league with a .359 average in 2010, when

the Rangers won their first AL pennant.