ARLINGTON, Texas -- Texas Rangers slugger Josh Hamilton has been a fan favorite since arriving in Arlington prior to the 2008 season and usually receives some of the loudest cheers at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. But his current slump, combined with a rough game defensively on Friday, caused some fans to actually boo the outfielder after he struck out on three pitches with a runner in scoring position in the fifth inning of the club's 9-5 loss to the Chicago White Sox.
"It's disappointing," Hamilton said before pausing. "I'll leave it at that."
Hamilton was 0-for-4, yet still managed to drive in two runs. He has a team-high 83 and has been at or near the top of the league in that category all season. Still, he had two more strikeouts -- on six pitches total -- and is now hitting just .145 with three homers, 10 RBIs, 20 strikeouts and six walks in July. In his past 16 games, Hamilton is 7-for-59 (.119) with two homers to watch his average dip to a season-low .284. Right now, this July is his worst month as a big league player (the previous low was July 2009, when he hit .205 with one homer and five RBIs in 78 at-bats). This coming after Hamilton was AL Player of the Month in April and May. Hamilton hit .223 in June.
"I'm going to keep practicing and when it's time, it'll be time," Hamilton said about his slump. "I feel good. It is a process."
Hamilton struggled in the field Friday. He took a step back before charging a fly ball hit to left by Adam Dunn in the first inning and he couldn't recover in time to make a shoestring catch.
"The first inning, y'all know how the sun is," Hamilton said. "There was a little bit of an overcast, but it was a little tough. I couldn't see the ball until it was at its highest point. And by the time I saw it, I started in for it and I couldn't get there. Maybe I could've gotten there with a slide, but I chose not to slide."
Then, he didn't seem to expect Gordon Beckham to try to turn what appeared to be a single to left-center into a double in the fourth, and by the time the throw came in, Beckham had slid into second. He ended up scoring in the inning.
"The throw in the gap hurt tremendously," Hamilton said. "I threw it anyway. Through 162 games, you're going to be sore at some time. I'm just out there playing, man."
Manager Ron Washington said he hopes Hamilton doesn't get frustrated and that he can work his way out of his slump.
"He certainly didn't play at his best tonight on the defensive end," Washington said. "I wouldn't say what's going on at the plate had anything to do with it. I hope he doesn't get frustrated. There's still a lot of baseball to be played. Every one of those guys are out there fighting. They're battling hard. I expect him to do the same thing. I certainly hope he's not getting frustrated."
Hamilton said he wouldn't let the boos bother him and he was focused on trying to get better.
"I don't take anything personal with the fans," Hamilton said. "I just don't. There's a lot more encouraging me than are discouraging."
Teammate Michael Young said the club still believes that Hamilton will start to hit.
"That's the fans' business," Young said of the boos. "Obviously, we have a ton of faith in Josh. He's done a lot for this team. Fans will do what they want to do."