Josh Hamilton pleased with his spring

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- It took Texas Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton some time to find his stroke at the plate.

The 2010 AL MVP said he didn't have the "whip" in his swing when spring began.

"But I found it last week," Hamilton said. "I know I struck out three times [Tuesday], but that was trying to swing too hard. I kept seeing those balls outside and felt like I could drive it. That was a learning moment for me."

Hamilton's stats certainly aren't gaudy this spring. He's hitting .229 with four RBIs and doesn't have a homer.

"I'd like to hit one before we get out of here," Hamilton said, smiling. "But I need to quit trying."

Hamilton isn't concerned about the numbers. He feels like his swing is in a better groove now than it was at the beginning of spring. And most important, he's healthy.

"I feel good," Hamilton said. "My legs feel really good. I came in lighter and I think that's helped."

Hamilton said he hasn't had any further contract talks with the Rangers and doesn't expect to, as both sides agreed to that before spring training began. He said he had heard that an ownership group featuring Magic Johnson was buying the Dodgers, but said it doesn't alter his situation. The Rangers will get first crack at him in free agency, and his focus right now is on 2012.

He added that he has no problems playing more center field in 2012. The club continues to look for a right-handed outfield bat and it's looking more and more like Hamilton could be in center more often, with Craig Gentry still trying to find a rhythm after dealing with injuries and ailments this spring. It's possible that if the club finds that bat and it's a corner bat, it would spell David Murphy against tough lefties, but that could still leave Hamilton in center most days. But should Gentry pick things up, he can play out there at times against lefties and allow Hamilton to shift to left. Stay tuned.

But Hamilton expressed a desire to play center a few more times before spring as a tune-up and he'll get his wish. Manager Ron Washington said that Hamilton, who was not in the lineup Wednesday, will play center two of the last four games. Gentry will also get some more time out there.