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Tuesday, October 26, 2010
Josh Hamilton wary of quirky outfield wall

By Jeff Caplan

SAN FRANCISCO -- When the Texas Rangers work out for the first time at AT&T Park Tuesday afternoon, center fielder Josh Hamilton will be paying close attention to the fence in right-center field.

Hamilton has never played at the picturesque ballyard, but he knows the wind can come from any direction at any time and he knows a ball bouncing off the fence out there can bounce in any direction at any time. One bad bounce in particular sticks out.

"The one play that sticks out in my mind is the [2007] All-Star Game," Hamilton said. "Ken Griffey was out there and the ball was hit in right-center and it bounces back towards the line, so that was an inside-the-parker for Ichiro."

Ichiro's shot is the only inside-the-park homer in All-Star Game history. It took a funky bounce that caught Griffey in the wrong direction. Hamilton wants to make sure no one on the San Francisco Giants gets an inside-the-parker in the World Series. Understanding how the ball bounces out there takes on heightened awareness because designated hitter Vladimir Guerrero will be manning right field in Game 1 and possibly Game 2 as well.

"It’s nothing out of the ordinary to go into a new park and take balls off the walls, take ground balls, fly balls, all those things you need to do to become comfortable as quickly as possible with the facilities," Hamilton said. "Another thing will be taking balls off the wall in right-center and then making sure you back up the right fielder every play if he has to go toward the wall."

Guerrero, 35, made just 16 starts in the outfield this season, 15 in right field. But, he'll play right field in at least Game 1 to keep his cleanup bat in the order. Washington said he's not concerned with Guerrero being a defensive liability, even in AT&T's quirky right field.

"Vlad played outfield for us a few times this year. He hasn't hurt us. He knows what he's doing so I feel comfortable putting him out there. He works everyday at it."