Buzz: Uncertainty about Josh Hamilton

SEATTLE -- Coincidence or not, the Texas Rangers haven’t been very productive at the plate with Josh Hamilton out of the lineup. Whether he returns to the diamond for a key four-game set at home against the Oakland Athletics beginning Monday still remains to be seen.

Rangers manager Ron Washington said he hopes to have his All-Star center fielder back in action but is still unsure of Hamilton’s health.

After leaving midway through Tuesday’s 11-3 loss to the Angels, Hamilton will have missed five consecutive games after Sunday’s tilt against the Seattle Mariners because of blurred vision and balance issues. He said it’s a result of a sinus infection, but doctors have yet to identify a clear cause.

Hamilton had trouble fielding grounders and taking fly balls prior to Thursday’s game against Los Angeles and was sent back to Texas for more tests.

“We just have to wait and see when we get to the ballpark (Monday) to see where he is symptom-wise,” Washington said.

The Rangers have scored a total of six runs in the past three games, including their fifth shutout of the season during Saturday’s 1-0 loss. They were 8-7 in games without Hamilton through Saturday.

Even if the outfielder isn’t crushing home runs or producing at the plate, his presence still helps the Rangers gain an advantage.

“When we don’t have that threat, everyone gets pitched differently,” Washington said. “Pitchers are aware of where he is in the lineup. Every time he walks to the plate, you know something is going to happen. Take that out of our lineup and it makes a big difference.”

Other notes

Just get in: Washington doesn’t really care how Texas makes it to the playoffs. He just wants to get there.

The Rangers entered Sunday’s game against Seattle four games ahead of Oakland in the AL West race and one game ahead of New York for the No. 1 postseason seed. Their magic number was eight.

“If I start talking about playoffs and positioning and that stuff, the focus goes away from what it’s supposed to be on: the game at hand,” the skipper explained. “I want to get in. Would I like to win the division? Yes, of course. Would I like to win as many as we can? Yes, of course. But the bottom line is we need to get in.”

Washington said the coaches have been discussing a playoff rotation, but wouldn’t comment on specifics until Texas has a ticket to the postseason.

Gentry’s arm: A few players have tried to test Craig Gentry’s arm lately, and it hasn’t worked well for them.

The center fielder has three outfield assists in the last four games. He threw out Albert Pujols out at second base during Wednesday’s 6-2 win over the Angels and then did the same to Justin Smoak in the second inning of Saturday’s 1-0 loss.

While Washington said that Nelson Cruz and Josh Hamilton have the strongest arms, he thinks that Gentry has the best accuracy. For that reason, he said Gentry has the best chance to throw someone out.

“I’ll take accuracy over strength,” Washington said. “You don’t have to have a strong arm if you’re accurate.

Gentry is hitting .306 with 26 RBIs this season.

Perez to start Wednesday: Washington also confirmed that Martin Perez will start Wednesday against Oakland. Perez, taking Scott Feldman’s spot in the rotation, made his fourth start of the season on Friday and gave up three earned runs in four innings of work.