Hamilton misses third straight game

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Josh Hamilton has a strained muscle in his left rib cage, and the Texas Rangers are hoping he can avoid the disabled list and get better with medication and a few more days of rest.

Hamilton was out of the starting lineup for the third straight game Tuesday night and described himself as being in "extreme pain" before being examined by team physician Dr. Keith Meister.

Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said the doctor determined that Hamilton had a muscle strain.

"It's not believed to be structural," Daniels said. "Typically, the doctor feels like about 48 hours or so when you can tell how quickly a patient responds to [medication]. So we'll take it day by day, see how he's doing and how the team's doing and what our roster needs are."

The All-Star center fielder got hurt when he ran into the outfield wall in Toronto a week ago. His elbow folded into the left side of his body and his rib cage while he was feeling for the wall.

"Extreme pain, no matter what I do," Hamilton said in the clubhouse before the start of a three-game series against Oakland. "Just standing here, it hurts. Taking deep breaths. Running, throwing, hitting, everything hurts."

Hamilton wasn't in the starting lineup at Toronto on Wednesday, the day after slamming into the wall, but appeared in that game as a pinch-hitter. The left-handed slugger started Thursday, Friday and Saturday. He left in the fifth inning Saturday and pinch-hit again Sunday but didn't play Monday after trying to take batting practice.

"I probably need to rest it and let it heal," Hamilton said. "I battled through the last four or five days, did everything I could to help it and pain tolerance-wise to get through it. ... If I'm out there, I'm not going to play not to get hurt. I'm going to play full-out."

Daniels said Hamilton talked to Meister and team trainer Jamie Reed about what he needed to do.

"His thought was if we could wait a little bit, he'd like to do that," Daniels said. "Right now, we've got a little time. We're going to play with it."

The Rangers faced Oakland rookie Brett Anderson on Tuesday, the first of five left-handers Texas was scheduled to face during the six-game homestand.

"That's part of the thought process ... although Josh is not a guy you're platooning," Daniels said.

Marlon Byrd started in center field Tuesday night. Andruw Jones, the 10-time Gold Glove center fielder with Atlanta, started in left.

Texas manager Ron Washington expects Byrd to be the center fielder when Hamilton is out.

"I think Marlon, right now, is best for that," Washington said. "Marlon has been playing center field for us the past three years and I think he had been doing a great job. ... This is my call. I don't have any explanation otherwise."

Jones, a five-time All-Star for Atlanta who hit only .158 with three home runs last season in his only year with the Los Angeles Dodgers, made the Rangers' roster after coming to spring training on a minor league deal.

Going into Tuesday night's game, Jones was hitting .370 with two home runs and five RBIs in nine games. Byrd was hitting .351 with two homers and 13 RBIs.

Hamilton, who led the AL with 130 RBIs while playing 156 games last season, was hitting .242 with two homers and 10 RBIs in 66 at-bats.