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Tuesday, June 28, 2011
Josh Hamilton gets a big test

By Calvin Watkins

HOUSTON -- While there are concerns about Josh Hamilton's ability to play well during day games, the bottom line is the Rangers outfielder is one of the best players in the game.

Durability is a question for Hamilton, as evidenced by the number of injuries he's endured. He plays with small rib pads to protect himself.

Tuesday night, Hamilton made two diving attempts at balls that were reminders of how some worry about his durability.

In the fifth inning, Hamilton, playing center field, ran to his right and failed to catch a shot by Clint Barmes, which ended up being a double. Hamilton dove for the ball but didn't reach out with his right arm. It's the same arm that suffered a broken bone in the shoulder area while diving head first into home plate on April 12 at Detroit. The injury kept Hamilton out until May 23.

Hamilton admitted he was thinking about not getting hurt when he reached out for the ball.

"Yeah, I dove for the first one," Hamilton said. "Kinda got alligator arms on the first one cause I knew I was going to hit the ground hard, so I didn’t get full extension."

The ball didn't seem to hide from him.

In the seventh, Hamilton ran to his left, into right-center field, on another long drive by Barmes. This time, Hamilton dove for the ball, catching it with his right hand (glove hand), and he landed hard on his left side in the warning track.

Hamilton was OK, but it was a good test for him in terms of running around the outfield and diving all over the place.

"That's the way you play the game," manager Ron Washington said. "If he doesn't do what he did out there you never know what may happened in [the] ballgame. That's the way you play the game. It had to be a great play to be made [out there] and he made a great play."

Still, Hamilton was thinking about the first diving attempt and why he didn't fully extend himself. He thought about his ribs, which he's hurt in the past and of course the shoulder that cost him nearly two months of the 2011 season.

"It was in the back of my mind," he said.