Buzz: Josh Hamilton leading offense's charge

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Remember all the angst over Josh Hamilton's swoon about a month ago?

That offensive drought is in the rear-view mirror now, as Hamilton woke up Tuesday morning leading the majors in runs batted in (114) and tied for the lead in home runs with Adam Dunn.

Hamilton hit his 38th homer Monday. He’s the first player with as many as 38 homers and 114 RBIs through 134 games since Alex Rodriguez in 2007.

Manager Ron Washington has enjoyed seeing Hamilton prosper at the plate lately, and the key, according to Washington, has been plate discipline.

“His chase rate has gone down,” Washington said. “He hasn’t missed many mistakes and he’s taking walks now. He still has days where he might strike out two or three times in the game, but then do something big with one at-bat. “

Washington said another key factor is that Adrian Beltre has heated up while hitting behind Hamilton. That means Hamilton gets to see better pitches.

“They’ve got to pick their poison now,” Washington said.

When Hamilton was slumping, a lot of other Rangers were, too. But now Hamilton is going well and most of his teammates are joining the fun.

“He’s the straw that stirs the drink,” Washington said, borrowing a line once attributed to Reggie Jackson. “That’s what stars do. Stars bring the level of other personnel around them to the level they should be at. Josh is a legitimate star. When he’s doing well, it energizes everyone.”

Other notes:

* News came down that Japan now plans to compete in the World Baseball Classic next spring, but right-hander Yu Darvish isn’t making any quick decisions about whether he will participate. In a statement released through the Rangers, Darvish said he was still in the middle of a season and had no comments on that issue right now. Washington added that it’s too early to talk about Darvish’s possible participation in the WBC.

* Catcher Mike Napoli, who is battling back from a left quadriceps strain, worked out Tuesday at Kauffman Stadium. Napoli still hasn’t run the bases, which is a prerequisite for his return. “I felt something the other day, so we just shut it down,” Napoli said. “We’re going to try and run a little harder each time.” Napoli said there were no setbacks Tuesday and he might work out again Wednesday and make some turns at first base.

* The Rangers went into Tuesday’s game at 80-54, which was five games ahead of their pace through 134 games in both 2010 and 2011. “It has been a little tougher, but we’ve been able to maintain,” Washington said. “These guys have had to grind it this year. They are doing what they have to do.”