Josh Hamilton tests ribs in loss to LAA

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Texas Rangers manager Ron Washington said he was surprised at how smooth slugger Josh Hamilton looked in his return to the lineup after breaking two ribs.

In his first game back since crashing into a wall in Minnesota on Sept. 4, Hamilton went 0-3 in the Rangers' 5-4 loss in 11 innings to the Los Angeles Angels.

He played six innings in center field and is scheduled to be the designated hitter Saturday night. He would then play left field for nine innings in Sunday's regular season-finale.

"I felt like it went well," Hamilton said."I felt like my at-bats were good. My first at-bat, the foul out, that kind of sucked. I would have like to have seen more pitches, but overall, coming back, facing a guy like that [Jered Weaver] for not seeing anything for a month, I feel like I did well. I was seeing the ball well."

Hamilton, who flied out in his last at-bat, had an active first inning.

Wearing a flak jacket to protect his ribs and told to play it safe, Hamilton nevertheless ran to his left to reach a fly ball in right field. And with two outs in the frame, he went after Bobby Abreu's drive to the gap in left center but tumbled and could not catch it.

It was a scary moment for the Rangers, who don't want their MVP candidate to risk more injury before the ALDS starts on Wednesday.

"I didn't dive for it," he said. "I'm not that stupid. I reached for it, and at the last second it was tailing away from me and I basically fell. I hope people don't think I'm that stupid. It was a good test."

Coming into the game, Hamilton was the majors' leading hitter. He has 31 home runs and 97 RBIs for the AL West champs. But getting him to the postseason is a high priority now.

"He was much better than I thought," Washington said. "His timing was good. Jared Weaver can make you look bad. His second at bat, he threw him a breaking ball that never got there, but I thought his timing looked good and he moved around the outfield well."

Calvin Watkins is a reporter for ESPNDallas.com. You can follow him on Twitter.