Josh Hamilton sees back specialist

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Texas Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton went to see a back specialist in Los Angeles on Monday.

With his team in Anaheim for a three-game series against the Angels, Hamilton was examined by Dr. Robert Watkins. Hamilton planned to return Tuesday to get the test results and the doctor's recommendation.

Hamilton has been bothered by bruised ribs since he crashed into the right-center field wall on Sept. 4. He took some swings last Tuesday but felt pain and backed off. He has not attempted baseball activities since then and received two cortisone shots last week.

"It's something where we have to be patient," manager Ron Washington said. "Anything other than that would be speculating."

After the Rangers' 7-4 loss to the Angels and the Oakland Athletics' 3-0 win over the White Sox on Monday night, the Rangers' lead in the AL West was cut to eight games over the second-place A's and Texas' magic number to clinch the division remained at six.

Washington said he thinks Hamilton would need 20 to 30 at-bats before the end of the regular season to prepare himself for the playoffs.

What if Hamilton isn't ready until right as the playoff start?

"If we make the playoffs and he's healthy, he'll have to figure it out in the playoffs," Washington said. "It's all about his health."

Hamilton leads the majors with a .361 batting average and has 31 home runs and 97 RBIs.

Richard Durrett covers the Rangers for ESPNDallas.com. You can follow him on Twitter or leave a question for his mailbag.