Rangers' Hamilton not sore, return nears

ARLINGTON, Texas -- All-Star center fielder Josh Hamilton expects to return to the Texas Rangers lineup this weekend after a trip to Iowa for at least one more rehab game.

"That's been my target the whole time, to get back some time during the homestand," Hamilton said Tuesday after working out with the Rangers. "If I do that, it will be a goal accomplished."

Hamilton last played May 31 before going on the disabled list for the second time this season. He had surgery three weeks ago to repair a slight abdominal tear.

During his workout at Rangers Ballpark before Texas played the AL West-leading Los Angeles Angels, Hamilton shagged fly balls in center field and took batting practice. The slugger hit several towering home runs, including a 450-foot shot to the top of the hill in straightaway center -- though he won't be doing that at the Home Run Derby in two weeks.

Hamilton said the surgically repaired area is not sore, and he's not having any problems.

"I'm still feeling some tightness when I really stretch out and run hard, but that's normal," Hamilton said. "I'm comfortable with normal."

Despite missing half the season, and hitting only .240 with six homers and 24 RBIs in 35 games, Hamilton is third among AL outfielders in the latest fan voting for the All-Star Game. Hamilton said he will play July 14 in St. Louis if elected, but will not participate in the Home Run Derby.

Hamilton put on an awe-inspiring display in last year's derby at the old Yankee Stadium, hitting a record 28 home runs in the first round.

Hamilton was 1-for-4 with a walk, stolen base and a run scored as the designated hitter for Double-A Frisco on Monday night.

After working out with the Rangers, he was to join Triple-A Oklahoma City for a series in Iowa. Hamilton expects to play several innings in the outfield Wednesday, then extend that Thursday, though he wouldn't be specific about his expectations.

"I'm not going to say what my plan is, because my plan, I would be playing tonight," Hamilton said. "Whatever [the Rangers] tell me, I'm just going to go play. If they feel I'm doing well enough or my timing's good enough, they will get me out of there."

Hamilton got hurt when he crashed into an outfield wall making a catch May 17. That came less than a week after he was activated off the DL following a strained rib cage muscle sustained when he crashed into another wall on a catch.

"Obviously I will be more leery of the wall and what the situation is. ... Different situations will cause me to act a little differently around the wall," he said. "My body's felt great this year. The two times I've been hurt, I hit a wall."