Josh Hamilton won't alter style of play

May, 25, 2011
5/25/11
2:24
AM CT

ARLINGTON, Texas -- A nearly six-week stay on the disabled list with a hairline fracture in his upper arm didn't alter Josh Hamilton's style of play his second game back in the lineup.

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In a memorable eighth inning on the bases around 1 a.m., Hamilton slid headfirst into first base in beating out an infield hit, slid headfirst in stealing second and made a nice hesitation headfirst slide to avoid a tag on a wild pitch to get to third. He was stranded there, but he certainly made a statement that his body felt good and that he was going to stay aggressive on the bases.

"I see what you’re saying, but you guys have to have something to write about," Hamilton said to a small group of media early Wednesday morning. "If I stop doing that, then I won't be true to myself as a baseball player or true to my teammates or the fans that watch me play the game.

"I just don't get why you keep harping on it. Just expect it out of me. If I get hurt, we’ll continue to do this thing. It’s ridiculous. I can’t worry about that. I never think about it."

So what did all the sliding show?

"That I want to win," Hamilton said. "Isn't that what I get paid for?"

Hamilton had said during his rehab assignment in Double-A Frisco last week that he might tweak his game to avoid some dives and even some headfirst slides.

"I didn't slide in the minors, but it's game time up here," Hamilton said.

Hamilton said sliding the way he did early Wednesday morning is an example of his instincts taking over. He believes that sliding into first base like he did on the infield hit gets him to the bag faster than running.

"I would have been out," said Hamilton about running through the bag instead of sliding. "The inning would not have continued."

Manager Ron Washington said he would have preferred Hamilton not slide to first on that hit, but was relieved when Hamilton got up without any issues.

"He's just playing baseball," Washington said. "It's his instincts. I don't want to take his instincts from him. I don't expect him to change."

Hamilton said if he goes into second base on his stolen base attempt feet first, that he's out.

"It was about giving him the least amount of body he can tag," Hamilton said.

Hamilton then made a headfirst slide into third on a wild pitch and made an impressive move, hesitating as he went into the bag, avoiding the tag and touching the base just before the tag was applied. Hamilton said he knew he was safe.

One thing the running and sliding showed is that Hamilton appears ready to play the field. Washington said Hamilton won't play the outfield before the weekend, but it's clear his body is feeling like it can handle it.
Richard Durrett joined ESPNDallas.com in September 2009. He writes about colleges, the Dallas Stars and the Texas Rangers. Richard spent nine years at The Dallas Morning News covering the Rangers, Stars, colleges, motorsports and high schools.

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TEAM LEADERS

BA LEADER
Elvis Andrus
BA HR RBI R
.305 1 3 8
OTHER LEADERS
HRE. Andrus 1
RBIA. Rios 7
RE. Andrus 8
OPSS. Choo .776
WM. Perez 2
ERAY. Darvish 0.82
SOY. Darvish 23