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Josh Hamilton hoping for quick bounceback from knee pain

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Josh Hamilton described his latest setback from knee surgery as a "little tiny blip" and said he hopes it's just a minor disruption in his spring training routine with the Texas Rangers.

Hamilton, who signed a minor league contract with the Rangers in January, experienced what he called a "sharp pain" on the outside of his left knee while taking part in running drills Tuesday. He flew to Houston that night to see Dr. Walt Lowe, the surgeon who repaired Hamilton's ACL in June.

An MRI showed no structural damage, and Hamilton received an injection of platelet rich plasma Wednesday to quell some irritation before returning to Rangers camp. He said the knee already feels much better and that he is planning on spending the next few days riding a stationary bike. He hopes to resume hitting in the batting cage by Monday.

"I call this 'getting the kinks out,'" Hamilton told reporters Thursday morning. "After battling with my knee so long the last couple of years, this is a little tiny blip in the big scheme of things. My confidence hasn't wavered any. I'm still focused on being here and being a part of this team this year. I'm not in any hurry right now. It's really early in camp, and I'm totally at peace with what's going on right now."

Hamilton declined to put a timetable on his comeback, although he acknowledged he would like to be part of the Rangers' roster on Opening Day against the Cleveland Indians on April 3.

"My ultimate goal is to break camp and be there," Hamilton said. "That's still my main focus. But with any player coming into camp, if you feel something early and try to push through it, it's going to last longer. I probably should feel stressed or a sense of urgency, but I don't."

Hamilton, 35, was a five-time All-Star with the Rangers from 2008 to 2012 and won the American League MVP award in 2010. He left to sign a five-year, $125 million contract with the Los Angeles Angels as a free agent in December 2012, but he disappointed on the field and dealt with a drug and alcohol relapse in Los Angeles. The Angels agreed to pay most of the $80 million left on his contract when they traded him to Texas in April 2015.

Los Angeles is on the hook for $22 million of the $24 million owed to Hamilton in 2017, with the Rangers responsible for the other $2 million.

If Hamilton can stay healthy in camp and show enough to crack the Opening Day roster, the Rangers envision him as a left-handed-hitting complement to Mike Napoli at first base and a potential part of the team's left-field contingent this season.

Jurickson Profar, Ryan Rua, Delino DeShields and Joey Gallo are also in the Rangers' left-field mix in Surprise.

Asked if he felt fortunate to have dodged something more serious with his latest knee flare-up, Hamilton replied, "Yeah, probably, to be honest with you, because it was a similar pain that suddenly came on. But it wasn't the ACL and I could still bend it, so that alleviated two of the things there. I was concerned, but not overly concerned. Why not find out an answer to your issue right away?"