Josh Hamilton hopes to return next week

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton said he felt better after seeing Dr. Robert Watkins on Tuesday and getting treatment to relieve the pain caused by small fractures in two ribs (Hamilton said he had three ribs that were fractured, but one has already nearly healed). And he believes that if all goes according to plan, he could return for the final four or five games of the season.

"The treatment is the same if it was bruised or fractured," Hamilton said. "But it's a relief to know that I've been in such pain for a reason. It is what it is. I got the injections today and a couple of nerve blocks and the injections to the ribs and it's already feeling better. But I'll know for sure if this is really, really going to help in the next two days."

Hamilton said the doctors told him he can't hurt the ribs more by swinging, throwing or running, but that he could do damage if he slams into a wall and hits the same exact area as he did on Sept. 4 at Target Field in Minnesota. So for now, he waits to see if the pain goes away even more in the next few days.

Hamilton said he did not expect to play in Oakland this weekend and was targeting a return to the lineup during the final homestand of the year.

"If this thing plays out as I hope and pray it will, I would play maybe the last four or five games of the season," Hamilton said. "That would be pretty nice, whether it would be DH or what."

Hamilton said he doesn't know if he needs just a game or two to get back in rhythm or if he needs 20 or 30 at-bats. But he'd clearly prefer to get as many games under his belt as he can next week so he's got something to build on heading into a possible postseason series. He added he's optimistic he'll get back on the field before the regular season ends so he can be ready for a possible postseason series.

"I have to be optimistic, if not, I'd be moping around here dragging around and not doing any good for my teammates as far as body language," Hamilton said. "I am optimistic and I'm focusing on what I have to do to get back to where I need to be and want to be. The biggest thing is pain management right now. Then it will be a fast, gradual buildup to see if I can get back out there."

Hamilton is known for playing hard, something he's not likely to change.

"Most of the time if you play differently, that's when you do get hurt," Hamilton said. "I've played all year at 80 percent and I've learned how to do that. But when a play calls for it, it's one of those things when it's hit that if I'm making up ground and I can get to it, I'm going to try to get there."

He said he'll wear some protection under his jersey, like something running backs wear under their shoulder pads. Hamilton described it as an Under Armour shirt with padding around the rib cage area. He tried it on last week and said he could move around and do everything without any problem.