SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Rangers slugger Josh Hamilton got a chance to test his two-strike approach in a few at-bats the first two Cactus League games. He was pleased with the results.
He got behind 0-2 on Sunday and laced a single to center. He was down 0-2 in one at-bat Monday, took a ball and then hit a liner to first that was snagged with the infield in. What made Hamilton happy about it was that he felt like he had good plate discipline and wasn't fishing at anything.
"It all goes back to being healthy and getting my swing back to where it was before I got hurt last year," Hamilton said. "I'm not expanding the zone too much with two strikes. I feel like I'm seeing the ball better."
Hamilton has talked this spring about how he never got completely comfortable at the plate in 2011. He fractured the bone in his upper arm in the second week of the season and then had the groin issues late. The second set of injuries were almost worse for his swing, in a way, because he couldn't use his back side the way he wanted. Now he can and he's seeing a difference.
"It's a work in progress," Hamilton said. "But I do feel better. It's getting there."
Hamilton hit .083 when the count was 0-2 in 2011, .150 after it got to 0-2 and .187 with two strikes. His two-strike average was one of the lower ones among everyday players in the AL.
* LHP Martin Perez will start Friday and is pleased with his progress this spring. His focus has been his two-seam fastball, which he throws mainly arm side (inside to left-handed hitters and outside to righties).
"It's one of my best pitches now," Perez said.
That's saying a lot since Perez also features a nice changeup. He's throwing a four-seamer, a pitch used to get inside on righties, and a curve ball.
"I'm working and it's going well," Perez said. "I'm throwing strikes and that's the main thing."
* Nothing new to report on the injury front, which had assistant GM Thad Levine smiling in the clubhouse. And it was a crowded clubhouse as more media arrive in advance of Yu Darvish's first Cactus League start Wednesday.